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With N.H. PFAS Limits in Limbo, Saint-Gobain Continues Well Testing in Merrimack

The blue boundary on this map covers the area in which Saint-Gobain says it will still address some wells that exceed the state’s on-hold PFAS chemical limits. (via NHDES)";

The Saint-Gobain plastics factory in Merrimack says it will continue voluntarily complying – in part – with the state’s halted PFAS chemical limits.

New Hampshire’s strict standards for the toxic chemicals are on hold under a court injunction.

But Saint-Gobain says it will continue with parts of a plan approved last fall to test for PFAS at those strict levels in more wells farther from its Merrimack facility.

The tests will take place at properties the company identified this past fall, within the state-designated “outer boundary” of potentially Saint Gobain-linked contamination.

PFAS emissions from the factory contaminated hundreds of wells in the area a few years ago.

Under a 2018 consent decree with the state, Saint-Gobain has paid for bottled water supplies and to link up affected private well users to the local public water system.

Under the state’s on-hold PFAS limits, that system – the Merrimack Village District –would now be considered contaminated.

Tests completed before the injunction was fully in effect show the public water supply contains 21 parts per trillion PFOA. The state’s limit would be 12 ppt.

Saint-Gobain says it will continue supplying bottled water to neighbors previously selected for testing whose water is found to contain PFAS above those stalled limits.

The state says the company must follow the state's groundwater standard - with a PFOA limit of 70 ppt - in identifying additional properties for testing or bottled water service.

The state rules' injunction is still under appeal in a district court. Affected water systems are not required to take any steps to comply in the meantime.

This story has been updated to clarify Saint-Gobain's actions, based on information from the state.

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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