PORTSMOUTH — A new treatment plant located in Portsmouth can filter per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances out of one million gallons of water a day.
Working at a rate of 700 gallons a minute, the plant pulls water from six locations near Haven Well and then redistributes it to two other spots once PFAS is removed. Granular activated carbon and ion exchange resin are used during the process.
During a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new facility on Tuesday, Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Installations, Environment and Energy John Henderson said they take their cleanup of contaminants seriously.
Henderson said since contaminants were discovered at Haven Well in 2014, the Air Force has spent about $58 million to ensure the protection of drinking water in and around the former military base.
“I’m here today to tell you that the Air Force will continue to honor its commitments to see this through. We hear you, we appreciate your input and we’ll keep pressing until this job is complete,” Henderson told the crowd.
Stephen TerMaath, who is the Air Force Civil Engineer Center’s chief of the Base Realignment and Closure Program Management Division, said New Hampshire is leading the way nationally in remediation efforts for PFAS contamination because Pease is where the emerging chemicals of concern were first discovered on former military property.
“That was the first big discovery of PFOS (perfluorooctane sulfonate) and PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid) for the Air Force, especially in the Base Realignment and Closure Plan,” TerMaath told the New Hampshire Union Leader. “The lessons learned here have been applied to many other bases that are having that problem.”
TerMaath said they are prioritizing drinking water as they work to remove contaminants on bases throughout the country. Human health is their top concern.
“That’s our very first and upmost priority,” TerMaath said.
TerMaath said they have spent $149 million nationwide on water treatment efforts through the Base Realignment and Closure Program.