Environment
5:30 pm
Thu May 22, 2014

Pease Well Is Shut Down After Unregulated Contaminant Discovered

State officials have shut-down one of three drinking water wells that serve the Pease Tradeport. The well was contaminated with an unregulated chemical found in foams used by firefighters.

Perflourooctane Sulfonic Acid, or PFOS, was found in the well which serves the 250 businesses and 8,300 employees of the Pease Tradeport. It was detected in levels that exceed a “provisional health advisory” level set by the EPA.

Jose Montero, Director of the Division of Health and Human Services, says the chemical is used widely in food wrappers, clothing, and carpets and can already be detected in trace amounts in most people’s bodies. While animal trials have been conducted very little is known about the health effects of the chemical on humans.

“There is no specific disease that we can say this disease is caused by this particular level of those compounds,” says Montero.

However, the EPA has been investigating the chemical which it classifies as “likely to be carcinogenic to humans,” and PFOS has already been phased out of use in firefighting.

For the time being the two remaining wells at Pease are being supplemented with water from the Portsmouth Public Water supply. Public works officials are investigating ways to treat the contaminated water, or perhaps simply dig a new well.

Timeline:

1991: Pease Airforce Base is closed as part of the Base Realignment and Closure Process (BRAC).

2001: PFOS is phased out of use in firefighting chemicals.

January 2014: Pease tests ground water monitoring wells at the Pease Superfund site for PFOS, and the tests come back positive. 

April 16th: Pease tests drinking water wells for PFOs.

May 12th: Results of test are returned positive and above the EPA "advisory" limit. The well is shut down the same afternoon.