Kingston fire station shuts off water for drought victims after tests show contamination

by Jason Schreiber, originally posted on October 27, 2016


KINGSTON — The fire department has stopped handing out water to residents with dry wells after learning the fire station well has increased levels of the contaminant perfluorooctanoic acid, or PFOA.

The state Department of Environmental Services announced Thursday that two rounds of test results showed the station well contained 140 parts per trillion (ppt) of PFOA — a chemical used in cleaning products, pesticides and other industrial and commercial products that some worry could pose health risks.

The new state groundwater quality standard for PFOA and PFOS, adopted on an emergency basis over the summer and permanently last week, is 70 ppt.

Selectman George Korn said all of the town’s wells are tested every year and that results from water samples at the fire station in April were acceptable. However, that was before the new, lower standards for the chemical were established.

Korn said the town allowed residents to use the fire station water while awaiting the more recent test results because the samples from April appeared fine.

“We didn’t think there would be a problem,” he said.

The first test on Sept. 30 showed the elevated levels of contamination, at which point the state told the town to stop allowing residents to use a spigot at the 148 Main St. fire station to fill up buckets of water.

Fire Chief Bill Seaman said the station is now using bottled water.

More water samples were taken from the fire station and 10 nearby wells on Oct. 19. The results came back Thursday and showed the fire station still had the same elevated concentration.

According to DES, the additional wells that were tested did not exceed state standards for PFOA or PFOS, but did contain levels of PFOA and other non-regulated perfluorochemicals (PFCs).

Korn said water is now being made available to residents from a spigot at the back of Kingston Community Library on Library Lane. That water has been tested and showed no contamination, he said.

He said the town took action as soon as it learned about the contamination.

“I think we did everything reasonable to be responsible,” he said.

DES plans to work with town officials to investigate the presence of PFOA and other PFCs in the groundwater in the area.

The DES began a renewed focus on PFOA levels around the state last March, when PFOA was reported in water samples taken at Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics in Merrimack, and wells in the surrounding area were found to be contaminated.

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