Bedford meeting to focus on water contamination

by Kimberly Houghton, originally posted on May 31, 2016


BEDFORD — With 50 private wells detecting elevated levels of water contamination, a public meeting will be held Thursday to address concerns from residents.

Those 50 properties, which are on Hemlock Road, Green Meadow Lane and Back River Road south of Smith Road, are now receiving bottled water after perfluorooctanoic acid was discovered at levels above 70 parts per trillion.

“That provision of bottled water serves as an interim measure while the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services continues to work with Saint-Gobain to investigate and determine the appropriate long-term remedy for addressing the elevated levels of (contamination) in groundwater,” Jim Martin, public information officer with DES, said in a statement.

There are more than 250 properties in Merrimack, Litchfield, Bedford and Amherst that are receiving bottled water because their private wells are contaminated with various levels of PFOA, a chemical once used to make Teflon that has since been linked to certain cancers and illnesses.

Bedford is the newest community to deal with the water problem. Thursday’s meeting will take place at 6:30 p.m. at McKelvie Intermediate School, 108 Liberty Hill Road. Representatives from DES will be in attendance to provide information and take questions from residents.

On Tuesday, DES announced that it has filed an emergency rule to establish ambient groundwater quality standards for PFOA and perfluorooctane sulfonate. The state agency has set three groundwater standards: 70 ppt for PFOA, 70 ppt for PFOS and 70 ppt for PFOA and PFOS combined, according to a release.

“These standards give NHDES the authority to direct site remediation activities related to these contaminants, and also require public water systems to comply with these standards if these contaminants are found in their sources of drinking water,” Martin said.

The new emergency standard will be in effect for 180 days. However, DES is continuing to study potential rules for more long-term measures to combat water contamination in southern New Hampshire and throughout the state.

“We continue to work with state and local officials to aggressively address contaminated water and respond to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s new lifetime drinking water health advisory levels for (PFOA) and (PFOS), including providing bottled water in affected areas to those whose water supply falls under the new advisory,” Gov. Maggie Hassan said in a statement Tuesday. “Emergency rules for a new state standard on water contaminated by those chemicals are an important part of our response.”

Last week, a class-action lawsuit was filed against Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics and its general manager at the Merrimack facility on behalf of residents with contaminated wells near the Merrimack plant.

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