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State Data May Tie North Hampton Car Wash to Contaminants in Public Well


State environmental regulators will ask a North Hampton car wash to change how it disposes of used water, after testing showed high levels of potential toxins.

The investigation comes after two types of contaminants – PFAS and 1,4 dioxane – were found last year in a North Hampton well that served Seacoast residents.

The pollutants were under state limits, but Brendan Kernen of the state’s drinking water protection bureau says the well's operator, Aquarion, shut it off anyway.

Now, Kernen says the state has found unsafe levels of the same substances at and around the nearby Pro-Wash on Route 1. 

(Explore the state's PFAS testing data-- map works best in Internet Explorer or Firefox.) 

Kernen says the car wash, which has one other location in Newmarket, had a state permit to dump used water underground. But that permit was issued before the state began testing for PFAS and 1,4 dioxane.

Kernen says groundwater at the car wash contained PFAS at more than twice the state limit, and 1,4 dioxane more than 10 times the state limit.

He says they’ll ask the car wash to check its chemicals for unsafe substances, and to begin treating and storing water differently. And they may investigate whether other car washes share the same issues.

Kernen says the state does not believe contamination from Coakley Landfill has affected the wells in question, as some in the area have suggested.

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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