Pease Water Cleanup Activist Wins National EPA Award

Nov 7, 2018

Amico, center, accepts a national EPA award at Portsmouth City Hall Wednesday, surrounded by her family as well as state, local and federal officials.
Credit Annie Ropeik / NHPR

The Environmental Protection Agency is honoring a water clean up activist on the Seacoast for her community organizing.

Testing for Pease co-founder Andrea Amico is this year’s only recipient of the EPA’s national award for citizen excellence in community involvement.

It’s been four years since Amico learned her family was exposed to dangerous levels of PFAS chemicals at Pease International Tradeport.

Since then, she’s helped secure blood tests and health studies for neighbors, testified before Congress about federal PFAS policy and worked to shape EPA outreach nationwide.

“I had no idea when I started speaking out on behalf of my family back in 2014 that my role would evolve as a community leader for Pease,” she said at a ceremony in Portsmouth Wednesday. “My family has been incredibly supportive and generous with their sharing of me with my community.”

New Hampshire U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen and New England EPA Administrator Alexandra Dunn presented the award. They say Pease is a ground zero for the contamination crisis, but  Amico has been instrumental in making PFAS cleanup a priority.

Shaheen said in an interview after the ceremony that she’s awaiting results of upcoming PFAS health studies and new EPA regulations to know what Congress may do on the issue next.

And she says that work should include the original manufacturers of the chemicals – companies like 3M and DuPont, now known in its chemical division as Chemours. Some records suggest the companies knew long before the government did that PFAS could harm human health.

“This is another example where the polluters should pay and they should be part of the solution,” Shaheen said. “We need to hold their feet to the fire in Congress to make sure that happens.”

The EPA plans to issue a national management plan for PFAS, which could help states coordinate future standards and cleanup approaches, by the end of the year.