Water Contamination

Emily Corwin / NHPR

Last week was a big news week for residents dealing with water contamination issues in New Hampshire and across the country. 

Emily Corwin / NHPR

The EPA has announced a lifetime health advisory level for two chemicals that have contaminated water in Southern New Hampshire and at the former Pease Air Force Base.

Emily Corwin / NHPR

Private wells near a former manufacturing plant in Amherst have tested high for levels of the chemical PFOA.

The contamination likely originates at a former Textiles Coated International plant. That company moved its operations to Manchester in 2005.

Emily Corwin / NHPR

Saint-Gobain is not the only company using perfluorinated compounds in New Hampshire. New Hampshire’s Department of Environmental Services has identified 44 companies in the state that likely use or once used this water-contaminating compound in their products.

Perfluorinated compounds include PFOA, found earlier this year at Saint-Gobain’s Performance Plastics plant in Merrimack, and PFOS, found two years ago in well water on the former Pease Air Force base.

Emily Corwin / NHPR

  Residents with contaminated wells in Southern New Hampshire may be able to hook up to public water in the coming months. That’s since Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics in Merrimack agreed to pay for design efforts to extend public water to affected homes.

Flikr Creative Commons / eyesore9

The New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services has announced updated drinking water well test results for the water contaminant PFOA in Southern New Hampshire.

Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation

 

  In 2002, the Saint-Gobain performance plastics plant in Merrimack doubled in size.  That growth happened when the company decided to close its plant in Bennington, Vt., and move those operations to Merrimack, N.H.

Ceyhun (Jay) Isik / https://flic.kr/p/cG7qFL

A second bottled water pickup has been scheduled for Southern New Hampshire residents whose wells were contaminated with the compound known as PFOA.

The state Department of Environmental Services will provide the bottled water, paid for by Saint-Gobain, at the Litchfield Transfer station on Sunday, from 9 to 3.

Residents who qualify include those within a one-mile radius of the Saint-Gobain plastics plant, as well as those in designated neighborhoods outside of that radius.

  More than 500 people showed up at a Merrimack Elementary School last night for the first public information meeting about a water contaminant found in private wells in the town.

There, the state’s Departments of Health and Human Services, and Environmental Services told the packed auditorium that the state would offer voluntary blood tests to the handful of residents whose wells test over a certain threshold. 

On Thursday, DHHS public information officer Jake Leon told NHPR "it's still early. It's hard to know what we're going to do."  

Joe Shlabotnik/flickr

A large turnout is expected for a meeting in Merrimack Wednesday night where state officials will update residents on their investigation into the chemical contamination of some local water supplies.

The state Department of Environmental Services has expanded the radius of its probe after three private wells tested for high levels of the chemical PFOA.

DES has now collected samples from approximately 100 private wells within a mile of the Saint-Gobain plastics plant in Merrimack, where the chemical was first detected.

public domain / wikimedia commons

  A Kentucky-based attorney is criticizing the NH Department of Environmental Services for its response to possible water contamination in Merrimack.

File Photo

The U.S. Air Force has teamed with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to monitor residents exposed to contaminated water from the now-closed Pease base.

The Portsmouth Herald reports that Air Force Secretary Deborah James said yesterday that officials are developing a plan for health monitoring near the Portsmouth base, with the CDC taking the lead.

An Air Force report submitted in September says 454 civilians and 6,128 service members were potentially exposed to poisonous chemicals found in water from the Haven well at Pease International Tradeport in 2014.

Via PortsmouthWastewater.com

The U.S. Air Force has agreed to treat two more contaminated wells on the former Pease Air Force Base.

That’s in addition to the Haven well, which the Air Force agreed to treat back in August. That well tested above the EPA’s provisional health advisory level for perfluorochemicals, which had leached into the water from firefighting foam used on the base.

Now, after urging from the community and EPA, the Air Force will treat the Harrison and Smith wells, which test positive for the chemicals, but below the EPA’s threshold for the contaminants.

Emily Corwin, NHPR

People exposed to contaminants in well water on the former Pease Air Force Base say the state’s information about health risks has been insufficient. While the state says no conclusions can be made about the science, scientists say more is known that the state is letting on.

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The US Air Force will comply with an order from the Environmental Protection Agency to clean up groundwater at the Pease International Tradeport. A chemical family known as PFCs were discovered there, above the EPA threshold in the spring of 2014. 

In a statement, the Air Force Civil Engineer Center announced they had already resumed operation of a water treatment system; they have funded studies to evaluate new drinking water sites, and will develop wells to intercept the contaminants - -which are already leaching into the neighboring Harrison and Smith wells.

Jack Rodolico

Shaghaf Mohammed has seen too much in her 11 years. Her family fled Iraq in 2013. And when they left, they never could have guessed the battle they’d face in their new home in Manchester. Shaghaf’s four-year-old sister, Aleel, is sick with lead poisoning.

File Photo

The state Department of Health and Human Services says it's still determining if it can proceed with another round of blood tests for people exposed to contaminants at Pease International Tradeport in Portsmouth. 

Eric Fleming

One of New Hampshire’s largest landlords, Brady Sullivan Properties, is under scrutiny from city, state and federal regulators for lead contamination in one of its buildings in Manchester. 

New Hampshire Health And Human Services will discuss the results of the first 100 blood samples provided by individuals who spend time on the Pease Tradeport.  

A total of 433 people have been tested for the perfluorochemical “PFOS” after the city of Portsmouth discovered a high concentration of the contaminant in the Haven well on Pease.  The well has since been shut off.

A community advisory board concerned about water contamination on Pease Tradeport heard from two epidemiologists Tuesday night in Portsmouth.  

Courtney Carignan studies environmental contaminants at Harvard’s School of Public Health. She says even though the contaminant found in a well at Pease is in a sort of regulatory limbo with the EPA, the contaminant's health effects are known.

NH DHHS

As of this week, the state has tested the blood of 260 adults and children who were exposed to contaminated well water at the Pease Tradeport.  But some parents are questioning why their children are asked to sign a consent form before being tested. 

About a year ago, water tests revealed that a potentially harmful contaminant had been leaching into well water on the former Pease Airforce Base.  It was from old firefighting foam that was used as early as 1970.

The Department of Health and Human Services is offering a free blood test to people who may have drunk contaminated water at the Pease Tradeport in Portsmouth last year.

Perfluorochemicals, or PFCs, are used in products that resist heat – like Teflon, and the foam once used for fighting fires at Pease Airforce Base. PFCs were found in a well at the Pease Tradeport in May 2014.

Simon Bowen

EarthTalk®
E - The Environmental Magazine

Dear EarthTalk: What are “ghost factories?”                                           -- Philip Walker, Hartford, CT

With recent heavy rains, more New Hampshire ponds and lakes have been under water quality advisories.

See a map of current beach advisories here.

When you tear open a bag of prewashed salad greens, do you worry that this superhealthful fast food could actually make you sick?

The companies that sold you that salad do worry about it. Because no matter how much they try to keep dangerous microbes out of that bag, they can't seem to guarantee that they've caught every one.

This week, for instance, Dole Foods recalled thousands of bags of lettuce after a few leaves from one of those bags turned up positive for Salmonella bacteria.

(Photo by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/martinluff/4962229615/sizes/m/in/photostream/" target="_blank">martinluff</a> via Flickr Creative Commons)

The magnitude 5.8 earthquake that rattled the east coast back in August triggered speculation about whether the controversial gas drilling technique called fracking may have been responsible. Fracking involves drilling thousands of feet into the shale deep below the earth’s surface, then fracturing the earth by pumping millions of gallons of sand, water, and chemicals into the shale to release natural gas. So far, contamination of groundwater supplies has been the focus of those opposing big energy’s push to expand fracking.