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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?

N.H.'s Water Quality Activists Hail Vermont Settlement

Howard Weiss-Tisman
/
Vermont Public Radio

A settlement between the state of Vermont and the plastics company Saint Gobain is catching the attention of some in New Hampshire who say the settlement should change the conversation around water quality here.

Saint Gobain will now spend $20 million dollars to connect many of Bennington’s contaminated well-owners with public water. According to VPR, the company has also dropped its pending lawsuit over the state of Vermont's drinking water standard for perfluorichemicals. Vermont's standard is more strict than the federal government's.

Saint-Gobain Drops Its Lawsuit Over Vermont's Drinking Water Standard

Proponents of stricter water regulations in New Hampshire are calling the settlement proof that state regulators can come down hard on polluters and come out on top.

“I think this shows that sticking to your goals really can turn out in a good way,” said New Hampshire State Representative Mindi Messmer.  “I really think they did the right thing by protecting their people.”

But New Hampshire regulators say the state has done even better than Vermont without resorting to legal action.

“We’ve already accomplished what the Vermont announcement today sets the groundwork to undertake,” said Jim Martin, public information officer for the Department of Environmental Resources.

To date, more than 260 southern New Hampshire homes have been connected to public water, with Saint-Gobain’s picking up the tab.

But according to Messmer, that assessment misses a key point. In Vermont, Saint Gobain will have to remedy even homes in the state with small amounts of the contaminant – as low as 20 parts per trillion, the state's more protective threshold. In New Hampshire, only homes over 70 parts per trillion are eligible for remedies.

A year ago, New Hampshire adopted the federal government's ambient groundwater quality standard for the contaminants, while Vermont adopted a more stringent threshold.

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