DES identifies water contamination in Salem

by Doug Ireland, originally posted on June 3, 2016


SALEM, N.H. — The state Department of Environmental Services announced Friday afternoon that high levels of chemicals linked to a former landfill have been found in nearby groundwater.

The high levels of perfluorooctanoic acid, or PFOA, and perfluorooctane sulfonate, or PFOS, were detected at the former LL&S construction and demolition debris landfill, DES spokesman James Martin said.

Martin said neighbors should not be alarmed at this point and that DES will soon begin sampling groundwater from surrounding properties to determine if there is further contamination.

The federal Environmental Protection Agency was called in to conduct water sampling from 10 monitoring wells near the landfill, he said.

Testing showed PFOA concentrations ranging from 2.5 parts per trillion, or ppt, to 560 ppt, he said.

PFOS concentrations ranged from 1.3 ppt. to 260 ppt, he said. The state standard for these chemicals is 70 ppt, Martin said.

The 16-acre landfill is unlined and operated from 1978 to 1984, which is when DES began monitoring the site, Martin said. The landfill was capped in 1986.

It’s believed the chemicals are linked to foam used to fight multiple fires at the landfill dating back to the mid-1980s.

The LL&S wood processing facility still operates near the former landfill at 87 Lowell Road. An auto salvage yard operated there as early as the 1950s.

A five-alarm fire broke out at LL&S in September, triggering explosions. It took 13 hours and a million gallons of water to bring the blaze under control.

Martin said any residents concerned about their water being contaminated should call 603-271-9464. More information about testing is also available on the NHDES website, he said.

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