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Nashua Tannery Site Lands On EPA Priorities List

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The Environmental Protection Agency has named 21 contaminated sites across the country, including one in Nashua, where it aims to make quick progress on cleanup or redevelopment.

Mohawk Tannery is an old leather processing facility on the Nashua River. It was open until the 1980s, and used to dump chromium and zinc into the water.

The EPA says the tannery left toxic sludge in unlined disposal areas along the river, but it doesn't pose an immediate health risk.

The site is not yet on the EPA's "National Priorities List," which would make it an official Superfund site. Mohawk is one of four sites on the list that isn't actually a Superfund yet, and it's one of only a few with a redevelopment goal.

The EPA's list also includes a site in Providence, and some of the riskiest, most contaminated areas in the country, such as a drinking water basin in Orange County, California, and a lead-contaminated residential area in Indiana.

New Hampshire has twenty other current or former Superfunds, including at least four active cleanups.

Mohawk's addition to the list has been delayed for years, as cleanup and redevelopment efforts moved forward. Its development potential is apparently what landed Mohawk on the EPA's new list of sites it says are "targeted for immediate, intense action."

The EPA says its administrator, Scott Pruitt, will give all the listed sites direct attention, and move Superfunds on and off the list as their goals are met.

Annie has covered the environment, energy, climate change and the Seacoast region for NHPR since 2017. She leads the newsroom's climate reporting project, By Degrees.

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