CAP meeting in Portsmouth on tap Sept. 20

The Community Assistance Panel that has been seeking answers to questions about analysis of water contamination in the Pease community will host its third meeting of the year at 6 p.m. Sept. 20 in the New Hampshire DES office in Portsmouth.

The meeting will be hosted by officials from the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, which is scheduled to perform a health study at Pease with a $10 million grant it is scheduled to receive from the Department of Defense. The study will analyze the health of local citizens and former employees at the Pease Air National Guard base that was closed in 1991 after PFAS water contamination was discovered at the base.

CAP members were disturbed at the first meeting of the year in January, when the Pease location for the ATSDR study was not confirmed, but were satisfied when Bill Cibulas, the director of the Toxicology and Human Health Sciences division at ATSDR made this statement at the May meeting:

“We’re going to test and validate the approach, the collection, the methods, the questionnaires, tools and procedures, everything that we will be doing with any other site that eventually joins us as part of the multi-site study is going to be done here at Pease. The data collected at Pease will be rolled into the larger multi-site study and as you know, sites there have yet to be determined.”

He also said the study will be carried out on the ground by a contractor selected by the Centers for Disease Control, and should be completed next summer.

Tests will be conducted on at least 350 children ages four to 17 and 1000 adults who lived or worked in the Pease area and consumed PFAS contaminated water before 2014.

CAP members questioned Cibulas and other ATSDR officials on issues related to the testing. Andrea Amico, founder of Testing for Pease, a community action group, who lives in Portsmouth, said, “I’m the parent of two small children who I hope will participate in this health study. Who can I expect to be interfacing with when the study starts?”

ATSDR officials said the state health department will send her a letter to arrange the tests and the contractor will be responsible for administering the blood test on her children.

In May, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen announced the ATSDR PFAS study would take place at Pease. “Seacoast families deserve answers about the health impacts of PFAS and I’m happy to report that Pease will be a center piece of the first nationwide PFAS study, getting us one step closer to that goal,” she said.

Shaheen also praised the CAP meetings. “Granite Staters exposed to PFAS are rightfully seeking answers about any health impacts such contamination could have on their safety and health. These community assistance meetings are an important step, and I urge the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry to answer the questions, and listen to the concerns and feedback of New Hampshire citizens. No one should have to question the safety or quality of their drinking water, and I will continue working to ensure that all hard-working Granite Staters and Americans have access to the clean water they need to lead healthy lives and contribute to our economy.”

Cibulas praised ASTDR for its work on the issue and CAP members for their interest. “In my 32 years of government experience I have never seen the federal family galvanized around an environmental health issue like this,” he said. “There are 15 federal agencies that are working different angles of this every day. We’re really excited now, where we’re entering a new stage, we’re moving forward, monies are in hand. We’ve got a plan, you’re a big part of that plan.”

“This is really exciting news and the Pease community is extremely appreciative of this opportunity, so thank you very much.” Amico said. “Thank you to Senator Shaheen’s office as well.”

The CAP meeting on Sept. 20 is open to the public and takes place at 222 International Drive, Portsmouth.