Our concerns began in 2016, when it became clear that community activism was necessary in Merrimack, New Hampshire.
In March of 2016, NH DES ordered the closing of two of the six Merrimack public water wells as they tested over the state regulatory limit at that time for the combined PFOA/PFOS total of 70 ppt. Residents were stunned to find out that they had been drinking tasteless and odorless toxic chemicals for at least 2 decades. DES has stated that contamination of our closed wells has been attributed to air emissions of PFAS use at the Saint Gobain facility that accumulated in soil and traveled into groundwater. Despite PFOA and PFOS being voluntarily phased out years ago by manufacturers such as Dupont and 3M, the ongoing use use of replacement chemical blends in the same class by users such as Saint Gobain have not been disclosed or regulated in air or groundwater. Although PFOA and PFOS were the only chemicals in this class to be identified as problematic to our residents, what we have since learned is that air emissions and industry discharges from Saint Gobain Performance Plastics and an additional significant user of PFAS chemicals, TCI, have resulted in the presence of 21 additional PFAS chemicals in our entire community water supply.
On-site groundwater test results at the Saint Gobain property show the presence of at least 34 PFAS compounds including data for PFOA alone of up to 69,500 ppt. Additional test results for stormwater outfall, discharge into waterways, wastewater disposal and air emissions show the presence of high levels of multiple PFAS compounds. Cumulatively the numbers and the list of compounds in water tests are alarming while concern about air stack emissions has been verified by an analysis by the EPA ORD identifying 190 PFAS compounds as an ongoing contamination pathway. NH DES set a preliminary offsite investigation area of 65 square miles, with Saint Gobain only assuming remediation responsibility for a much smaller area.
Offsite investigations in a limited area agreed to by Saint Gobain, using the controversial EPA federal advisory of 70 ppt for only PFOA and PFOS combined have resulted in 758 private wells being designated as unsafe in addition to the 2 public water supply wells. Due to the lack of effective regulatory guidance from the EPA, states such as NH have been left on their own to struggle with a pathway forward and residents have had no choice but to become their own self educated advocates.
Water filtration of all public wells to stop PFAS exposure via water consumption
Remediation of all PFAS impacted private
wells and access to a clean water source
More protective regulatory water standards combining all PFAS chemicals
Air emission regulation for all PFAS
Improved communication and support for our PFAS impacted community from NHDES, NHDHHS and the ATSDR
Polluter responsibility and accountability
Physician support and education to provide health guidance to residents who have lived or worked in PFAS exposed communities
Access to PFAS blood testing
A scientific health study to examine the health effects of PFAS chemical exposure
Community support and education to better understand the multiple pathways of PFAS exposure and risks to health
Federal leadership including designating PFAS chemicals as hazardous substances