NASHUA — With contaminants still present at the Four Hills Landfill and a nearby Superfund site, an environmental expert said this week the city should expand two groundwater management zones.
“The intent, certainly, is to protect public health,” Andrew Hoffman of the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services told the aldermanic Planning and Economic Development Committee on Tuesday.
Although the Four Hills Landfill and the Gilson Road hazardous waste site have separate groundwater management zones in place, Hoffman suggested the two zones be joined as one, expanded to the edge of the Nashua River and then maintained together.
According to Hoffman, the contaminants are steady or declining, however the groundwater still does not meet state drinking standards. He stressed that all of the properties within the two zones use municipal water, not private well water.
The Gilson Road site, sometimes referred to as the Sylvester site, is a 25-acre plot where liquid waste was illegally dumped in the 1960s and 1970s, said Hoffman, explaining the groundwater was later treated for about a decade once it was deemed a federal Superfund site in the early 1980s.
“It is relatively low concentrations,” Hoffman said of the contaminants, which include arsenic and a variety of toxic organic and inorganic compounds.
In addition, a 60-acre portion of the Four Hills Landfill that is no longer active and was capped in 2003 is the second area under consideration for the proposed overlay district.
Contaminants of various metals including arsenic and nickel are still evident along the boundary of the closed portion of the Four Hills Landfill, according to Nikki Roy of Sanborn Head and Associates, Inc.
Still, she said, contaminants are decreasing and will continue to decline over time. Roy said the groundwater, however, will keep flowing and discharging to the Nashua River, which she described as a natural process.
The Groundwater Management and Release Detection Permit from DES requires that the city create a Groundwater Management Zone for the Four Hills Landfill, and that the zone be recorded in the registry of deeds for each property within the zone, according to officials.
As an alternative form of notice, the law allows for the establishment of an overlay district, which is being recommended for Nashua since the two zones are significant in size and include many properties.
On Tuesday, the committee voted in support of creating the expanded groundwater overlay district, but the change will not be final until approved by the full Board of Aldermen.
Several residents attended a public hearing about the proposed ordinance, some of them voicing concern about the contaminants and whether the value of their property will decrease once it is listed within the new overlay zone.
“I don’t know how they can really pick that zone,” said Daniel McCoy, whose family owns land nearby on Skyline Drive. “… It is affecting a lot of properties out there. It is a big deal.”
The property already has a decreased value since it sits near the landfill, according to McCoy, who said the value of his land will decline even further once it is included in the proposed groundwater overlay district.
Ryan Adams of West Hollis Street agreed, saying the new zone will create an additional hardship when trying to sell his property.
“We can’t get rid of it; no one will touch it,” Adams said of his parcel. “It is impossible for property values not to be affected.”email@example.com