Lawmakers’ frustration aired over water contamination bill
The amended bill, HB 463, which would have required the state to consider tougher standards for acceptable limits of perfluorinated chemicals like perfluorooctanoic acid in drinking water, died Thursday in Concord as a House and Senate conference committee could not agree.
Litchfield, Merrimack, Bedford and Amherst residences have been struggling with PFOA contamination in their water after Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics allegedly released the chemical out of its smokestack.
Byron said DES believes it still has the authority to address this new pathway of contamination, and that the state is still protected.
However, Byron said it would have been beneficial to explicitly indicate this authority in state law.
Sen. Dan Feltes, D-Concord, said in a separate statement that he is “very disappointed House Republicans rejected drinking water standards that protect the public health, particularly prenatal and early childhood health.” Last week, state Rep. Chris Christensen of Merrimack said during a committee meeting that DES already has authority to regulate smokestacks that emit something that results in groundwater contamination.
According to the bill, it would have required DES to establish a drinking water standard and ambient groundwater quality standard for PFOA and perfluorooctanesulfonate within 120 days.
However, there is an ambient groundwater quality standard at 70 parts per trillion for combined PFOA and PFOS consistent with EPA’s health advisory standards,” states the bill.
If the bill were adopted and the department determined a lower standard was appropriate, the bill would have resulted in the establishment of a drinking water maximum contaminant level and revised the existing ambient groundwater quality standard.
A preliminary analysis to lower the standards to 20 parts per trillion, the number used in Vermont, would have cost more than $40 million, according to the proposed legislation.