coakley landfill

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

The Coakley Landfill on New Hampshire’s Seacoast is back in the headlines, more than 30 years after it became a Superfund site.

Neighbors are again worried the site could be poisoning their drinking water, after a rash of childhood cancer cases nearby and the discovery of dangerously high levels of PFAS chemicals at the landfill.

That’s despite local officials' promises that the landfill is safe, under control and not a threat to nearby residents. In fact, they say the landfill is mostly just misunderstood.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

New Hampshire residents can have their say Monday night about future federal regulations on a class of potentially toxic industrial chemicals called PFAS.

Exeter will host two days of New England-wide public meetings on the issue.

It’s the EPA’s first regional public engagement on its new standards for PFAS, or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

The federal government has published new data about the health risks of industrial chemicals known as PFAS.

The Centers for Disease Control study backs the concerns of some residents in contaminated areas here in New Hampshire, who say federal and state limits on PFAS aren't strict enough.

Many lawmakers, including New Hampshire’s congressional delegation, called for the study’s release after reports that the White House and Environmental Protection Agency had sought to withhold the data.

Eversource/Business Wire

Eversource is currently trying to buy its second water company in the past year.

The region’s biggest electric utility hopes to provide water service to hundreds of thousands of customers across four New England states.

It would still be a small swath of the overall water system – but that could change. 

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

Neighbors of the Coakley Landfill Superfund site in Greenland are optimistic the site may see further cleanup.

They met privately with top Environmental Protection Agency officials Monday.

The group held a press conference at the edge of a brook that runs alongside the landfill and contains high levels of potentially toxic PFAS chemicals.

“While this may have been called an emerging issue some time ago, it is now a top priority issue for the U.S. EPA,” said New England EPA Administrator Alexandra Dunn.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

The Environmental Protection Agency will meet Monday with residents who live near the Coakley Landfill Superfund site on the Seacoast.

An EPA spokesman says the agency’s New England administrator, the new head of the Superfund task force and others will be in Greenland to fulfill a promise to talk with neighbors about their concerns.

EPA

The Environmental Protection Agency will develop new regulations on certain industrial chemicals in drinking water. The substances, called PFAS, have been a problem on New Hampshire's Seacoast and elsewhere.

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said at a summit on PFAS in Washington on Tuesday that they’ll talk about the issue in Portsmouth next month.

New Hampshire environmental regulators joined officials from at least 30 other states and tribes at the summit.

Via USGS.gov

Lawmakers from New Hampshire are asking the federal Inspector General to launch an investigation into the financial operations of the group charged with cleaning up a federal Superfund site.               

The Portsmouth Herald reports that the lawmakers' recent letter references $5.25 million in federal funding for the cleanup of the Coakley landfill site in Greenland and North Hampton. Lawmakers say it appears some of such funding went to settle a lawsuit against a group remediating the landfill.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

A state representative's plan to spur more clean-up at the Seacoast's Coakley Landfill Superfund site may be scaled back after a Senate vote Thursday.

The original proposal would have gotten the state involved in forcing the entities responsible for the pollution to pay for more thorough cleanup. 

That measure passed the state House last month.

But the Senate opted for what the bill's sponsor, Rep. Mindi Messmer, calls a “stripped-down version.”

Via USGS.gov

Update, Tuesday 10 a.m.: The records hearing was continued late Monday night and has not yet been rescheduled.

Original post, Monday 4 p.m.: 

A judge is expected to decide Tuesday if the towns and businesses responsible for pollution at Coakley Landfill on the Seacoast have to release more of their internal records.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

Some Seacoast residents were unhappy Thursday night to hear state and federal officials reiterate they don’t believe the Coakley Landfill is contaminating area drinking water.

Authorities say some groundwater wells around the Superfund site in North Hampton do show high levels of suspected carcinogens called PFCs – but they say the chemicals haven’t spread to private wells.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

Members of the New Hampshire legislature’s Seacoast Cancer Cluster Commission said they didn’t want to debate facts about Coakley Landfill and its effect on public health at their meeting Monday – but that’s mostly what they ended up doing.

State and federal regulators told legislators repeatedly they can’t prove or disprove whether Coakley Landfill Superfund Site is causing cancer on the Seacoast.

Via USGS.gov

The city of Portsmouth says it expects to release a trove of documents about toxic waste cleanup at Coakley Landfill Superfund Site around the end of this month.

It comes as a group of Seacoast lawmakers files suit to get records from the entities responsible for that pollution, known together as the Coakley Landfill Group. 

NHPR File Photo

 

The New Hampshire House has passed a bill that would kick-start further cleanup of the Coakley Landfill Superfund site in North Hampton. 

 

Lawmakers on Wednesday voted against a committee’s recommendation that the idea be studied further. Then, they passed the bill, 207 to 118. 

 

The measure tells the state Department of Environmental Services to spur remediation at Coakley by getting money from the towns and other entities responsible for the pollution. 

 

Via USGS.gov

A bill that would force the cleanup of a hazardous landfill on the Seacoast hit a stumbling block in a House committee Tuesday.

The bill would require the groups that dumped hazardous waste at the Coakley Landfill in Greenland in the 70s and 80s to start cleaning it up.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

The state commission on the Seacoast’s high cancer rates signaled Friday it would push for cleanup at Coakley Landfill, despite objections from the Environmental Protection Agency.

The legislators and public representatives who make up the Cancer Cluster Investigation Commission have a report due this fall on what's driving those cancer rates, and they’ve honed in on the EPA’s Coakley Landfill Superfund site as a likely culprit.

Representative Charles McMahon, a Republican from Windham, chairs the commission.  

Via USGS.gov

Lawmakers will consider at least a dozen bills about water contamination and other environmental hazards when they return to session in January.

Jason Moon for NHPR

State and federal environmental officials held a meeting in North Hampton Wednesday night to update residents on efforts to address contamination at the former Coakley landfill site.

For three hours, scientists with the EPA and the state Department of Environmental Services laid out the work that has been done and that will be done to monitor and address contaminated water at a former landfill on the Seacoast.

Via USGS.gov

Senate Democrats from New Hampshire have sent a letter to the regional Environmental Protection Agency office raising questions about its determination that a controversial landfill did not pose an "unacceptable human health risk."

The EPA made the ruling about the Coakley landfill last month and announced it wasn't recommending remediation of chemicals on the site. The landfill in Greenland and North Hampton is a federal Superfund site and residents have expressed concerns that their wells could be contaminated.

Weekly N.H. News Roundup: October 13, 2017

Oct 13, 2017

Gov. Sununu nominates House Speaker Shawn Jasper to be the next Commissioner of Agriculture. Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter announces she won't run for re-election, and speculation begins on who might run for the first congressional district seat. State health official say residents on public water in Merrimack and Bedford have been exposed to toxic chemicals. And the state and EPA differ on the risks posed by a superfund site in North Hampton. 


Jason Moon for NHPR

Last week, the Environmental Protection Agency said the Coakley Landfill, a superfund site in North Hampton, does not currently pose an unacceptable risk to human health.

That message came as a surprise to some members of a task force charged with investigating a cancer cluster on the Seacoast. They have been arguing for months that the EPA needs to be more proactive in addressing contamination at the site.

NHPR’s Seacoast Reporter Jason Moon recently sat down with All Things Considered host Sally Hirsh-Dickinson to talk more about this.