State and federal officials say Nashua’s drinking water supplies are safe from contamination by a long-dormant Superfund site.
That's despite recent tests showing elevated levels of toxic PFAS chemicals in the groundwater at what's called the Sylvester site.
It’s a former illegal toxic waste dump in the southwest corner of the city, near the state line. The site is one of around two dozen Superfunds in New Hampshire.
State project manager Michael Summerlin says a city ordinance already prohibits use of groundwater in a large radius around the Nashua site.
“I’m not concerned that there’s going to be an issue very far beyond the boundaries of the site,” he says.
The EPA says the sampling results were as high as 210 parts per trillion PFOA within the site’s containment wall, but not above EPA health advice outside the wall.
“No one is drinking the groundwater surrounding the site as there are town ordinances that restrict groundwater use,” says EPA spokeswoman Kelsey Dumville.
Summerlin says the state will do more testing later this year to confirm the extent of the contamination.
Another old Superfund site in Kingston, known as Ottati & Goss, was also found recently to have elevated PFAS levels.
But Summerlin and the EPA say they didn’t find elevated contamination on two public beaches nearby, and don’t plan to recommend restrictions on swimming and fishing.
“Private well results are still pending,” says Dumville, “however, private residential wells have been sampled for site contaminants for well over a decade and have never been detected.”
She and Summerlin say they will immediately notify any residents if their wells are found to contain unsafe levels of chemicals. And she says they’ll hold a public meeting on the issue once all the results are in.
These are just the latest hazardous waste sites where the state and EPA has found PFAS, which was common in many industrial and household products for decades.
“EPA continues to evaluate the possible presence of PFAS at Superfund sites on a case-by-case basis based on site history, disposal information, potential exposure, etc.,” Dumville says.