The Town of Merrimack Urges N.H. DES To Temporarily Shut Down Saint-Gobain

Oct 1, 2019

Credit Annie Ropeik / NHPR

The town of Merrimack is requesting the Department of Environmental Services to temporarily shut down operations at Saint-Gobain Plastics. 

State regulators have held the factory responsible for addressing widespread PFAS chemical contamination in nearby water wells.

The town says it has found exponentially elevated levels of one PFAS chemical - PFOA - in a report of groundwater monitoring wells from March. It says the test results show that some wells had PFOA levels over 5,000 percent above the state's newly implemented legal limits. It also claims the test levels increased dramatically compared to results from 6 months prior.

Eileen Cabanel, the Town Manager of Merrimack, says town officials were shocked by the findings, and they suspect Saint-Gobain is still using the industrial chemicals, after saying they had been phased out. 

“We were led to believe that they were being very cooperative in cleaning up what they were doing and stopping the contamination from continuing,” said Cabanel. 

In a statement responding to the letter and a PowerPoint shown at last week’s Town Council meeting, Saint Gobain said that the company is in compliance with state and local regulations and does not think there is a basis for suspension. 

“Saint-Gobain does not believe this presentation is an accurate representation of the sampling events at the Merrimack plant... This presentation cherry-picks a handful of data points across multiple sampling locations and events and ignores the vast majority of the data collected.”

A peaceful protest is scheduled for outside of the Saint Gobain factory later this month.