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Bedford seeks public water for hundreds of homes

Union Leader Correspondent

March 13. 2017 9:48PM
The Saint-Gobain plant in Merrimack (Union Leader File Photo)

BEDFORD — Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics is considering extending public water to at least 64 homes with contaminated wells in Bedford, but town officials are hoping that even more residences will be included in the plan.

“The town absolutely, and I believe the Department of Environmental Services, feel the same way that people on bottled water need to be on municipal water in 2017,” said Town Manager Rick Sawyer.

Although Bedford officials have not received anything in writing from Saint-Gobain, they have been notified by DES that Saint-Gobain has requested a design proposal from Pennichuck Corp. to provide public water to 64 properties.

Sawyer said town officials previously requested that Saint-Gobain consider providing a public water extension to 288 properties in Bedford — not just the original 64 homes where perfluorooctanoic acid was discovered in private wells last year.

“That is part of our request — that Saint-Gobain work toward providing water to the entire area, and at least do the design solution if at all possible,” said Sawyer. “Clearly it may be a phased solution.”

To date, there are about 100 properties in Bedford receiving bottled water because their private wells are contaminated with PFOA.

“We suspect there might be a larger area to be looked at,” acknowledged Sawyer, adding DES and Saint-Gobain have been very responsive to the town’s concerns.

He is still hopeful that Saint-Gobain, which owns a Merrimack plant that is the likely source of the PFOA contamination, will still consider providing public water to the nearly 300 properties.

Elevated levels of private well water contamination were detected at houses on Hemlock Road, Green Meadow Lane, Back River Road, Smith Road and other streets.

Most recently, homes on Juniper Drive, homes farther up Back River Road to Meadowcrest Drive and Liberty Hill Road, and homes on South River Road between Commerce Drive and Iron Horse Drive, have detected high water contamination, according to Sawyer.

Sawyer is under the impression that Pennichuck Corp. may be considering utilizing Merrimack Village District Water to reach the contaminated homes in Bedford, although town officials have also asked that Manchester Water Works be considered in the design plans.

“I can say that there is constant activity on this, and constant back and forth between Saint-Gobain and DES on several issues, and this is one of them,” said Jim Martin, public information officer for DES. “We are hoping to get more definitive announcements in the short term.”

Martin said that although Saint-Gobain has requested an estimate from Pennichuck Corp. on design work for about 64 homes in Bedford, that doesn’t mean that discussions aren’t taking place to provide more Bedford properties with municipal water.

“There is a lot of work being done, I think, on both sides, and that is important for residents in all of the towns to be aware of,” Martin said.

This past August, state officials expanded their investigation into perfluorooctanoic acid after water contamination was also discovered at the former Bedford landfill on Chubbuck Road.

Elevated levels of contamination have been detected at wells immediately adjacent to the former landfill in Bedford, which was tested after water contamination had been discovered at the former Merrimack landfill.

Work is ongoing to address water problems in Litchfield and Merrimack as well.

The state is now providing bottled water to more than 500 properties in the region because of the contamination.

Free blood testing is still being offered to residents who live near the Saint-Gobain facility who have private wells with PFOA contamination above 70 parts per trillion.

Initial test results from dozens of blood samples taken from residents in southern New Hampshire reveal more than double the amount of PFOA contamination in the blood stream compared to the average U.S. population.

Environment Bedford


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