Jan 06, 2017

New Hampshire Residents Fear Contaminated Water Wells

Local Superfund site poses threat

new hampshire, water, well, contaminants, superfund site, landfill, safety

Residents in Greenland, Hampton and Rye, N.H., have raised concerns over contaminated water wells in the area. The residents are worried that chemicals leaching from the nearby landfill—a Superfund site—will contaminate the water wells around the site and put their family's health at risk.

The N.H. Department of Environmental Services is testing wells around the landfill to try to map the plume of contaminants, which includes PFCs found above the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) advisory level in monitoring wells and in residential wells below the level, and 1,4-dioxane, which EPA said is a carcinogen. Jillian Lane, who lives on Breakfast Hill in Greenland, like many of her neighbors, did not know her family was moving into a home near a Superfund cleanup site.

"There's definitely people who knew Coakley landfill existed," said Lane. "But I don't think they knew exactly what kind of animal it was."

Lane has formed a community group to push the Coakley Landfill Group, a collection of municipalities, trash haulers and trash generators, to provide municipal water to people living near the landfill.

In a letter to the Greenland Board of Selectmen written by Peter Britz, the City of Portsmouth's environmental planner and sustainability coordinator, the group states no contaminants have been detected in private wells above the EPA's advisory level, nor is there proof PFCs are coming from the landfill.

Britz added: "There is no evidence that the site poses any risk to the public health or environment."

Doctor and state Rep. Tom Sherman (D-Rye) stressed the only way to protect the residents and stop the plume of contaminants from moving closer to the homes is by providing municipal water on Breakfast Hill.

Although the CLG has refused to provide municipal water to other residents, it agreed to pay $200,000 to Chinburg Builders so its new subdivision could get municipal water. The new development is across the street from some homes in the existing Stone Meadows development. All those homes use wells for their water.

In its five-year review of the Superfund cleanup site, EPA stated: "there are currently no institutional controls in place for the proposed residential development site (Chinburg's new development).

"These are needed in order to prevent the potential for further migration of the impacted groundwater plume and to ensure that such groundwater is not used as drinking water or for any other purpose," said EPA.

Portsmouth, the lead municipality in the CLG, is scheduled to discuss the CLG at its Jan. 23 meeting.