The Bulletin Board

State reaches agreement with Saint-Gobain on providing water to 1,000 impacted properties

By: - April 18, 2022 5:27 pm
A glass being filled with water

There are around 1,500 private wells where the pollution levels are still unknown within what’s called the consent decree area. (Getty Images)

The Attorney General’s Office has reached an agreement with Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics requiring the company to permanently provide clean water to around 1,000 properties that have been impacted by PFAS contamination.

The agreement, announced by the state on Monday, will cover properties in the towns surrounding the Saint-Gobain facility, including in Bedford, Hudson, Litchfield, Londonderry, and Merrimack. Drinking water in these towns has tested above the state standards for PFOA, or perfluorooctanoic acid, a type of PFAS chemical. The chemicals have been linked to cancer and other health problems.

Under a prior agreement with the state, Saint-Gobain had provided bottled water to certain properties where the private well water contained levels of PFAS contaminants over the state standards. The agreement announced Monday is meant to provide a more permanent solution for impacted residents, requiring the company to either connect them to the public water system or provide them with a water treatment system at home.

“It’s a milestone agreement because we’re really talking about more than doubling the homes that will be provided with a long-term clean drinking water solution,” said Jim Martin, a spokesperson for the Department of Environmental Services. “But we also consider it a milestone because there’s still a lot more work that needs to be done.”

There are around 1,500 private wells where the pollution levels are still unknown within what’s called the consent decree area, an area that Saint-Gobain has agreed to take responsibility for. And around an additional 1,100 wells outside of the consent decree area are contaminated with PFAS that will not be covered by this agreement.

“There’s still a concern about the people who live outside the consent decree, as well as many that live inside that Saint-Gobain hasn’t sampled,” said Mindi Messmer, an environmental scientist who serves on the state commission charged with investigating the environmental and public health impacts associated with PFAS. She called the agreement a first step but voiced frustration with Saint-Gobain, which has not agreed to sample all wells within the consent decree area. Messmer urged residents of the five towns covered by this agreement to call the Department of Environmental Services and have their well tested.

The New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services will hold a meeting on Wednesday, May 4, at 6:30 p.m. to present information about the agreement and answer questions. You can register to attend the meeting online.

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Amanda Gokee
Amanda Gokee

Amanda Gokee is the New Hampshire Bulletin’s energy and environment reporter. She previously reported on these issues at VTDigger. Amanda grew up in Vermont and is a graduate of Harvard University. She received her master’s degree in liberal studies, with a concentration in creative writing, from Dartmouth College. Her work has also appeared in the LA Review of Books and the Valley News.

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