In Portsmouth, Gillibrand Talks Water Safety

Mar 15, 2019

N.Y. Senator Kirstin Gillibrand inside Portsmouth Public Library on Friday.
Credit Todd Bookman/NHPR

Democratic presidential candidate Kirsten Gillibrand was in Portsmouth Friday for a roundtable discussion on safe drinking water.

New Hampshire’s Seacoast region recently has been at the forefront of issues surrounding contaminated drinking water, a result of a class of chemicals known as PFAS that were widely used in firefighting foams, as well as other consumer products.

Inside the Portsmouth Library, Gillibrand told the audience that communities in her home state of New York are also dealing with the fallout of PFAS contamination.

“I mean, just imagine for a moment what it would be like to know that every shower, every bath, every time you boil water, you could harm your child. It’s inconceivable that that is in America today,” said Gillibrand. “But that is exactly what it is like, and the terror, it’s not even describable.”

Gillibrand was flanked by local environmental activists, including former State Rep. Mindi Messmer and Stefany Shaheen, a former city councilor and daughter of Sen. Jeanne Shaheen.

During the hour-long event, Gillibrand criticized the Environmental Protection Agency for what she called a lack of leadership on PFAS contamination. She also railed against President Donald Trump for his calls to loosen the Clean Water Act.

“He is a toxic president to America,” said Gillibrand.

The second-term Senator called for more investment in research on the impacts of PFAS chemicals, and for extended medical monitoring of children who have been exposed.