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State Regulators Reject Saint-Gobain’s Bid For Extra Time To Install PFAS Air Controls

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

The state has denied a request from the Saint-Gobain plastics factory in Merrimack for extra time to make upgrades that will control PFAS chemical emissions.

The facility’s air emissions of PFAS were found to have settled into hundreds of local water wells at unsafe levels in 2016.

Now, new state regulations will require Saint-Gobain to install $4.6 million in upgrades by next February to control those emissions. 

This summer, Saint-Gobain asked for a one-year extension on that deadline.

They said the pandemic was causing logistical challenges, and they worried that an appeal from the town, seeking stricter pollution controls, would create a “moving target” for the project. 

On Friday, the state denied that request. They say the company’s concerns don’t outweigh the public health effects of continued PFAS emissions above state limits and federal guidelines.

Saint-Gobain spokesperson Lia LoBello says in a statement that the company is still evaluating next steps.

“We are committed to installing the best available control technology and we will continue our dialog with NHDES,” she says.

The decision comes just after the official start of New Hampshire’s new standards for PFAS, limiting its presence in the air, soil and drinking and groundwater.

The legislature and governor enacted the standards this year, after a DES-led version of the same limits was halted by a court injunction. That injunction lifted earlier this month.  

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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