Seacoast residents hear from EPA reps about Coakley Landfill contamination monitoring

Agency promises to continue monitoring until no contaminants found

by Cherise Leclerc, originally posted on January 26, 2017


People living near the Coakley Landfill on the Seacoast who are worried about their drinking water met with representatives from the Environmental Protection Agency Thursday night.

Over the last year, state agencies tested monitoring wells on the outskirts of the landfill and found contaminants.

The EPA wrapped up a five-year study at the end of 2016, but said they’ll continue investigating the landfill until contamination is no longer found.

Residents who live in homes bordering the landfill site packed into the meeting, concerned over what they’re drinking every time they turn on the faucet.

“There’s a lot of kids living right across the street,” said Greenland town administrator Karen Anderson. “The residents are very, very concerned.”

The site, which serves Greenland, Portsmouth, North Hampton, Newington, New Castle and Pease Air Force Base, has been at the center of concern for some time. The EPA has identified several contaminants in monitoring wells outside the landfill.

“Over the past several years, we’ve encountered a couple different emerging contaminants,” said Brian Olsen, of the EPA. “One was called 1-4 dioxane, which is something that we never sampled for, never looked for in the past.”

After last year’s study, the EPA and state Department of Environmental Services recommended that the Coakley Landfill Group, made up of the city and towns the landfill serves, take steps to start looking deeper into the issue, including sampling drinking water wells for arsenic, manganese and other contaminants.

The landfill group said that was tested in the past week, as well as testing drinking water wells two times a year, installing more monitoring wells, which is expected to happen in February, decommissioning a damaged well and conducting surface water sampling.

There had been concern that a childhood cancer cluster on the Seacoast may have been linked to the water contaminants, but Olsen said any contamination would affect only those people living closest to the landfill.

“We’re not worried about people being exposed a mile or two miles away from this,” he said. “We’re talking people thousands of feet, or a thousand feet, from the landfill.”

More testing will be done this week.

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