LEBANON — The city is looking for partner communities willing to join it in a lawsuit against the state’s new rules on PFAS chemicals in water, City Manager Shaun Mulholland said Tuesday.
“We are considering possibly filing an injunction against the process in which the rules were implemented,” Mulholland said.
The state is changing the limits on PFAS, a group of man-made chemicals that includes PFOA, PFOS, GenX, and many others that are used in manufacturing. The state had set the limit of PFAS in drinking water at 70 parts per trillion, identical to the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s limit, but the outcry after the chemicals were found in water in several communities is prompting action in Concord.
PFAS has been found in drinking water in Merrimack and Litchfield, as well as in Portsmouth near the Pease Air Force base. PFOA, a predominant PFAS found in New Hampshire’s water, is a now banned carbon compound that is linked to liver disease, some types of cancer, and birth defects, and other health issues. It is known to bioaccumulate in the system, and has a long half-life.
Mulholland said New Hampshire’s DES had been set to change the limit from 70 parts per trillion to 30 parts per trillion, but instead the new limit is going to be 11 parts per trillion. Mulholland said the decision to go down to 11 did not allow for any input from the communities that will bear the burden.
“There was no public input,” Mulholland said.
Mulholland said state estimates put the cost of implementing the rules at $190 million, and that’s just for the drinking water in New Hampshire communities. Dealing with wastewater and groundwater will drive the cost up more.
Mulholland said the new standards are being set without a detailed look at the complete economic impact, and he said there has not been a thorough cost/benefit analysis. It’s unclear what the health difference is for going from 30 parts per trillion down to 11 parts per trillion.
“We don’t know what we’re going to get for that,” he said.