August 20. 2018 10:01PM

Extremely high PFOA levels detected in well at John J. Flatley Company in Merrimack, next to Saint Gobain plant

By KIMBERLY HOUGHTON
Union Leader Correspondent


MERRIMACK — With a well next to Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics detecting exorbitantly high levels of contamination, town officials are calling on the Department of Environmental Services (DES) to hold a community meeting.

“We know we have a well on Flatley land that is 19,000 parts per trillion. When are they going to do something about it? What is the game plan?” asked Barbara Healey, town councilor, during last week’s town council meeting.

In a recent letter to town officials, Jeffrey Marts of the Department of Environmental Services’ Hazardous Waste Remediation Bureau explained that data from monitoring wells on the John J. Flatley Company’s parcel next to the Saint-Gobain facility indicates the presence of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) in groundwater at concentrations up to 19,000 ppt, which is the highest concentration detected so far in groundwater around the plant.

Currently, New Hampshire has an Ambient Groundwater Quality Standard of 70 ppt of PFOA.

“Significant concentrations of PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) were detected in all the monitoring wells both upgradient and downgradient of the buildings and activities at the facility — a pattern consistent with a release from an air source,” wrote Marts.

With a new bill recently being signed into law by Gov. Chris Sununu, DES now has the ability to review and inspect sites for air emissions — another tool to help with Merrimack’s water cleanup, according to Town Councilor Bill Boyd.

Last week, Boyd approached his fellow town councilors asking them to invite DES to conduct a community presentation updating residents on the PFOA situation in town.

“We are a growing community. We have some new people in town,” said Boyd, stressing the importance of a public meeting to keep residents informed.

The parcel next to Saint-Gobain along the Daniel Webster Highway that is owned by the Flatley Company — the same one that houses the well that recently detected 19,000 ppt of PFOA — is the future site for 240 new apartments.

“I want to hear from DES if they are going to take any action on these wells,” said Town Councilor Peter Albert. Earlier this year, a well on the Flatley property detected PFOA levels of 1,400 ppt, which is still about 20 times the state standard.

The entire Flatley project, once complete, will convert nearly 150 acres of land into 240 apartments, 300,000-square-feet of retail space and 120,000-square-feet of industrial space; the future retail space will require its own individual site plans and additional approval from the planning board.

Five residential buildings to accommodate 240 one- and two-bedroom garden-style rental apartments, a pool, tennis courts and clubhouse are included in the plans, although the first phase of construction includes four residential buildings. Town permits have already been granted for the first portion of the project. 

Nancy Harrington, town councilor, said she is concerned about the air stacks at Saint-Gobain, questioning what the plan will be for those structures.

The council voted unanimously to ask DES to host a community meeting to update residents on these topics.

Flatley previously informed DES that no soils will be removed from its property during construction of the apartments.

NashuaNews@unionleader.com