Hanover Couple Affected By Dartmouth Contamination Receives Settlement

Apr 18, 2017

A Hanover couple has reached a settlement with Dartmouth College after their groundwater was contaminated by a former hazardous waste site.

It has been almost two years since Debbie and Richard Higgins learned their water was contaminated with the chemical 1-4, dioxane, a probable carcinogen.

The chemical is left over from a mid-century Dartmouth lab waste burial site known as Rennie Farm.

In late 2016, Higgins threatened to sue Dartmouth, demanding that the Ivy League school pay to relocate them, and reimburse them for emotional damage.

Earlier this month, the parties came to an agreement out of court, according to the Higgins’ lawyer, Geoffrey Vitt. Vitt has been representing the Higgins throughout this process and says they are satisfied with the mediation’s outcomes.

“This is a settlement that takes care of everything,” he told VPR Tuesday. “It takes care of any future health issues, it takes care of the emotional distress, it’s A to Z.”

Vitt added: “There’s nothing left to be resolved and if there are any health issues going forward they are in a position to take care of that."

The college will also be purchasing the Higgins home.

Vitt would not disclose the exact monetary amount of the settlement.

A Dartmouth spokesperson commented that they are "pleased this has been resolved".

The school continues their remediation of the Rennie Farm burial site and has set up a buy-back program for some homes affected by the contamination. 

Update Wednesday April 19, 2017 1:00p.m: This article has been updated to clarify that only the Higgins' ground water was contaminated by the chemical. Dartmouth spokesperson Diana Lawrence added: "We also do not anticipate detecting 1,4-dioxane in the soil due to the properties of that chemical."