Officials seek more help with PFAS

MERRIMACK – Members of New Hampshire’s Congressional Delegation are urging the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry to take additional steps to assess per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) contamination in the Merrimack area.

U.S. Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan, along with U.S. Reps. Annie Kuster and Carol Shea-Porter, all Democrats, sent a letter to agency Director Patrick Breysse in response to recent reports that extremely high levels of PFAS contamination have been found in a well next to Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics, in Merrimack.

In 2016, regulators found high levels of PFAS contamination in public and private drinking water supplies in Merrimack and Litchfield. As a result, a subsequent investigation by state officials uncovered extensive contamination in five Southern New Hampshire towns.

“Communities and families in the Merrimack area and across the state are understandably concerned with the long-term health impacts of exposure to PFAS from drinking water,” the delegation wrote.

The letter further urges ATSDR to expand its current services in the southern part of the state to include a more in-depth evaluation of community exposure to these harmful contaminants. They are also requesting the agency assess the feasibility of creating a community engagement forum for the Merrimack area.

Members of the Merrimack Citizens for Clean Water organization appreciated the letter.

“This is just absolutely wonderful and phenomenal,” organization spokeswoman Laurene Allen said. “I think it’s great that they are tuning into the needs of New Hampshire, and Merrimack in particular, especially since we need the national support.”

Earlier this week, Allen met with representatives of both Hassan and Shaheen about the PFAS issue. Her journey to self educate and advocate against the PFAS contamination plaguing her community.

She said Merrimack needs remediation, cleanup, for the exposure to cease, regulations in place and access to blood and urine tests. She describes Merrimack as a booming bedroom community with a vibrant workforce. Residents have taken on the role of investigating this situation, but she believes it now needs to be in the hands of the people whose job it is to resolve the issue.

“Merrimack and surrounding community residents have been exposed to, and continue to be exposed to PFAS contamination via air, water and soil,” Allen stated in an email. “Recent test results show not only an increase in levels of PFAS, but confirm the presence of the newer generation of unregulated PFAS chemicals.”

Adam Urquhart can be reached at 594-1206 or aurquhart@nashuatelegraph.com.