DES to give water contamination update in MerrimackBy KIMBERLY HOUGHTON
Union Leader Correspondent
October 08. 2018 11:11PM
MERRIMACK — Residents will be updated this week on the state’s ongoing investigation into perfluorooctanoic acid in southern New Hampshire.
Representatives with the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (DES), as well as town officials, will be hosting a public informational meeting on Wednesday to inform the community of ongoing efforts to combat the water contamination.
“DES now has some real tools, some real teeth to work with companies like Saint-Gobain,” said town councilor Bill Boyd.
A new law that went into effect on Sept. 8 allows the department to require controls for air emissions of certain PFAS compounds that impact soil and water. As a result, DES has since notified Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics that the company must investigate and apply for a permit to install air pollution controls at its local facility.
Wednesday’s meeting will provide agency officials the opportunity to review results from recent tests taken from Saint-Gobain’s smokestacks at the Merrimack plant. DES has already stated that the local facility is still releasing small amounts of polyfluoroalkyl chemicals from the stacks, which could be contributing to local groundwater contamination.
“It is the reason why we had this problem in the first place,” said Boyd, who is eager to learn more about the state’s ongoing investigation.
DES will update residents on the site investigation, ongoing water remediation projects with private wells in Merrimack and nearby communities, the air emission tests and Merrimack Village District’s work to improve public wells.
A question and answer session will be held, and break-out conversations with smaller groups will also take place at the meeting, which begins at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at James Mastricola Upper Elementary School, 26 Baboosic Lake Road.
“I absolutely am thrilled that DES is coming to Merrimack. I think that since we started dealing with this issue some two-plus years ago, the opportunity to get up to date information related to water quality, air quality and legislation is critical,” said Boyd.
Following Wednesday’s meeting, DES will then be holding three additional work sessions with the public to potentially set public drinking water and groundwater standards for PFOA and other contaminants.
“At each of the work sessions, NHDES will provide information on the current approach to deriving the health based numbers, as well as costs and benefits and ask for comments,” a DES news release states.
The first stakeholder and technical work session will take place from 5-7 p.m. Oct. 16 at Talent Hall Community Center in Litchfield, 2 Wood Hawk Way. Additional work sessions are planned for Oct. 18 (5-7 p.m.) at the DES office at Pease Tradeport, 222 International Drive, suite 175, Portsmouth, and on Oct. 19 (1-3 p.m.) at the DES offices, 29 Hazen Drive, room 208C, Concord.