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Environmental advocacy organization sues Nylon Corporation of America

Doc Searls
Flickr Creative Commons

The Conservation Law Foundation has filed a Clean Water Act lawsuit against the Nylon Corporation of America, saying the Manchester-based company has polluted the Merrimack River and violated its wastewater and stormwater permits.

Erica Kyzmir-McKeon, an attorney with the Conservation Law Foundation, said the company’s wastewater and stormwater discharges have been polluting the Merrimack River with low pH levels, heavy metals and high temperatures.

Low pH levels and high temperatures can harm fish and other organisms in the river, and Kyzmir-McKeon says discharges also affect those living downriver of Nylon’s facility who use the Merrimack as a drinking water source. Heavy metals released into the river could cause health issues like cardiovascular disorders and risk of cancer for humans.

Sewage overflows have also affected the water quality in the Merrimack River, which about 500,000 people in Massachusetts use for drinking water, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Many in the greater Nashua area also use the river as a drinking water source, and Haverhill, Mass. and Manchester, New Hampshire are planning to add infiltration wells that would increase the number of people using the river as a water source to 700,000.

One of the heavy metals the Conservation Law Foundation says the company is putting into the water is zinc, which the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry says can cause anemia and decrease levels of good cholesterol when ingested in large doses over a long amount of time.

In the lawsuit, CLF alleges Nylon Corporation has put amounts of zinc into the river that exceed their permits at least 30 times between 2017 and 2021. In one instance, the amount of zinc discharged from the facility exceeded the permit limit by more than 800%.

As part of the Clean Water Act citizen suit, the Conservation Law Foundation alerted the Nylon Corporation, the Environmental Protection Agency and New Hampshire’s Department of Environmental Services about their complaint more than 60 days ago. Neither the EPA or New Hampshire DES has taken action to address the alleged pollution.

“This company has known for years that they've been in violation of their permits, and nothing's been done to fix it,” Kyzmir-McKeon said. “The hope…is that they are going to look at the sources of their wastewater and their stormwater pollutants and figure out what to do to fix it.”

Nylon Corporation of America did not respond to multiple requests for comments.

The Conservation Law Foundation filed another citizen suit under the Clean Water Act in February against Schnitzer Steel Industries, saying they have also discharged pollutants into the Merrimack River.

Mara Hoplamazian reports on climate change, energy, and the environment for NHPR.
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