Residents get update on water problems

MERRIMACK – Carcinogenic chemicals associated with the production of plastics, foams and waxes continue causing problems in New Hampshire, so state regulators are working to keep residents informed of the mitigation efforts.

These materials are per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS. The Saint Gobain Performance Plastics facility at Merrimack has been identified as at least one source of the chemicals. Other communities impacted include Bedford, Litchfield and Manchester.

Wednesday, New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services Assistant Commissioner Clark Freise provided an update on regarding recent developments. He said recent legislation signed by Gov. Chris Sununu should help efforts to protect the public from PFAS.

The new law allows regulators to make rules regarding air pollution and the deposit of pollutants in soils and water. It also provides for regulating devices emitting or having the potential to emit air pollutants that may harm soil and water through the deposit of such pollutants.

Freise’s main role during the public information session was to deliver an update on alternate water projects. He said 457 properties in the Merrimack area and 100 in the Amherst area have already been connected to public water.

“We’ve got 306 properties that are not done, and that’s where we are focused right now,” Freise said.

Jeffrey Marts of the NHDES Hazardous Waste Remediation Bureau provided an update regarding site investigations.

“There are three main objectives to a site investigation,” Marts said. “The first objective is to identify the extent, location and nature of the source of contamination. The second main objective is to identify the receptors or potential receptors.”

The third objective is to identify the need for further investigation and identify the need for remediation.

Marts later said there are 25 potential release areas under investigation and that Saint Gobain’s consultant, along with help from NHDES, is developing a detailed site history.

“Another component of the site investigation is to know and have a clear understanding of geology,” Marts said.”

Looking ahead at what’s to come, in late 2018, a water well monitoring program is slated to begin. Moving forward into next year, the on-facility site investigation is expected to be complete. Also, in 2019 the goal is to install a wastewater pretreatment system. Finally, in 2019 a regional site investigation will begin.

Adam Urquhart can be reached at 594-1206 or