State wants to create limits for PFAS levels
MERRIMACK, N.H. — The state Department of Environmental Services is now getting feedback on proposed standards for chemicals in drinking water.
On Monday, DES hosted a listening session in Merrimack, where some said the proposal from DES doesn’t go far enough.
“You’re the lifeguards,” said Rep. Kathryn Stack, D-Hillsborough 21. “We’re drowning in this toxic chemical.”
DES is proposing a limit of 38 parts per trillion of perfluorooctanoic acid, or PFOA, in drinking water and 70 parts per trillion of perfluorooctanesulfonic acid, or PFOS. The chemicals have been detected near factories and military bases in New Hampshire.
In Merrimack, where the chemicals have been traced to the Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics plant, some residents are calling for lower levels.
“You are playing a numbers game with people’s lives,” Stack said. “How many residents of Merrimack have to get sick and/or die?”
“What is the value of a human life?” said Rep. Nancy Murphy, D-Hillsborough 21. “It may not be much to a multibillion industrial polluter, but it is everything to the parent of a child with cancer.”
Public input is being accepted before DES sets a state standard. The federal government won’t have enforceable standards this year.
DES said that, in the Merrimack area, Saint-Gobain is footing the bill to connect affected homes to public water.
“The private wells that are very close to Saint-Gobain and are measured above our current state standards, those houses have been connected to public water or are being connected to public water,” said Clark Freise, assistant commissioner of DES.
DES said more homes in Merrimack, Litchfield and Bedford will be connected in the spring.
Saint-Gobain must have a treatment plan for its emissions by the end of this month.
Soon, all water statewide will undergo quality testing.
Two more public hearings are planned — on Tuesday afternoon at the DES office in Concord and next week at the Pease Tradeport in Portsmouth, another area of concern for water contamination.