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Dartmouth Agrees to Mediate Dispute Over Well Contamination

Thursday, March, 10, 2016

Dartmouth College recently agreed to try mediation with a couple that accused the school of contaminating their home’s water well with carcinogenic chemicals. The couple alleges the college used their property in the 1960s and 1970s as a burial site for animals that were used in lab tests.


According to court documents, the chemical 1, 4 –dioxane was found on the couple’s property. The chemical is known to increase the risk for liver cancer and affects the health of the liver in other ways. Tests conducted on the water in the well found levels of the chemical that were double the state standard.


Dartmouth provided the couple with bottled water and has provided filtration tanks for the well. They also extended an offer to pay for the couple to live in a hotel.

The couple claims they have not consumed the water since they learned of the contamination.


The college revealed the animals used in testing that were buried at the site were contaminated by the chemicals used in testing. The college removed the bodies from the property in 2011. The college reported more than 20,000 pounds of rats and rodents were removed from the burial site. Nowadays, bodies of animals used in lab testing are incinerated by many labs. Dartmouth freezes animal carcasses and outsources them to a pharmaceutical and medical waste disposal management company in Illinois.


Despite offers to help with relocation, the couple wishes to remain in their home, in part because it was specially constructed to accommodate a disability.