Residents make video to combat PFAS water pollution

MERRIMACK – In the ongoing effort to protect New Hampshire’s water from cancer-causing chemicals, some Merrimack and Portsmouth residents are starring in a video produced by the office of U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-N.H.

The materials are known as per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS. They are generally associated with the production of plastics, foams, and waxes – and have been identified near the Saint Gobain Performance Plastics facility at Merrimack.

Laurene Allen and Katharine Hodge started Merrimack Citizens for Clean Water, while Andrea Amico launched Testing for Pease, a community action group that assists those impacted by PFAS water contamination at the former Pease Air Force base in Portsmouth. They appear in “These Granite Staters are Advocating for Their Communities,” a two-and-a-half minute video that can be viewed on Hassan’s Facebook and Twitter pages.

“These Granite Staters from Merrimack and Portsmouth have been fighting for answers about PFAS contamination,” the video posts at the beginning. Then, all three residents comment on the action they have taken, with Amico discussing the health studies, medical monitoring and blood testing that has been done in Portsmouth through the advocacy of Testing for Pease. There is also a shot of Hassan, who participated in the first Senate hearing on PFAS contamination in September.

The three residents traveled to Washington, D.C. on Sept. 26 to attend that hearing and met with Hassan in her office before the hearing took place.

The video was shot by Cara Schumann, Hassan’s digital press assistant.

“We were talking in a roundtable with folks from other states and were asked if we would stay to make the video,” Laurene Allen said. “It was very powerful for Kathy and me as Merrimack residents. There is no blood testing here or true remediation plans and the water is still contaminated, and they felt we were worthy enough to deserve a mention. This is the first time we’ve gone on record.”

The video highlights resident views of what they have done in response to the PFAS water contamination in Merrimack at the Saint-Gobain plant and at the Pease Air Force base in Portsmouth.

“I commend the advocacy of Granite Staters from Merrimack and across New Hampshire who are speaking out and demanding answers about what contamination from PFAS in their drinking water means to them, their families and their neighbors,” Hassan said.

U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H.: “These women have fought tirelessly to make PFAS contamination in our water supplies a front and center issue. Their grassroots efforts have helped move federal initiatives forward and I’m grateful for Andrea, Laurene and Katherine’s activism on behalf of New Hampshire families.”

Ricki Eshman, a press aide for Hassan, said the video has been viewed thousands of times on Twitter and Facebook.

“This is the first video of its kind our office has created, and we will continue looking for new ways to lift up the priorities and concerns of people across New Hampshire,” she said.

To view the video go here: https://www.facebook.com/SenatorHassan/videos/2078904388843266/?t=26.

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