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0000017a-15d9-d736-a57f-17ff8f4d0000NHPR’s ongoing coverage of water contamination at the former Pease Air Force Base and in the communities surrounding the Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics plant in Merrimack. We’ll keep you updated on day to day developments, and ask bigger questions, such as:What do scientists know about the health effects of perfluorochemicals like PFOA, PFOS and PFHxS?How are policy makers in New Hampshire responding to these water contaminants?How are scientists and policymakers communicating potential risks?How are other states responding to similar contaminations?

Saint Gobain Agrees To Fund Water Upgrades For All Homes In Contaminated Merrimack Area

Andreas Levers via Flickr CC

New Hampshire has reached what officials call a “monumental agreement” on water contamination with the Saint Gobain plastics company.

It comes more than two years after the state first learned of the contamination near Manchester, and will require the manufacturer to run clean water to all affected homes.

Saint Gobain notified the state in 2016 that it had released suspected carcinogens called perfluorinated chemicals, or PFCs, from its Merrimack factory.

Since then, the company has paid to replace more than 450 homes’ contaminated wells with connections to clean, public water supplies -- all without a formal agreement with New Hampshire officials. 

Now, Saint Gobain has signed a consent decree with the state, promising to do the same for about 300 other properties. It initially disputed it was responsible for PFC levels in those homes’ water.

“This is an agreement that hopefully will be welcomed by a lot of the residents that have been waiting for good news to be announced,” says state Department of Environmental Services spokesman Jim Martin. “They can finally know that they’re no longer in limbo and that they will be connected sooner rather than later.”

He says the state wants many upgrades done this year, or by November 2019 at the latest.

Saint Gobain spokeswoman Dina Silver Pokedoff says the company is still tallying up the cost of the work they have done so far and will be required to do under the consent decree.

The agreement, which still must be finalized in court, also requires further environmental monitoring, testing and potentially clean-up in the area. All of that could stretch for years, adding up to what Martin calls the largest groundwater investigation in state history.

DES will answer residents' questions at a public meeting Wednesday night in Litchfield, at 6:30 p.m. at Campbell High School.

For those who can't attend, the meeting will stream online, and DES will hold office hours in Bedford and Merrimack on Thursday.

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Read the consent decree in full: 

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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