Merrimack

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

The state holds a public hearing tonight about a new air emissions permit for the Saint-Gobain plastics factory in Merrimack. The facility is being held responsible for contaminating nearby drinking water with PFAS chemicals from its smokestacks.

The proposed air permit would dictate pollution controls for those stacks to prevent more chemicals from settling into soil and groundwater.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

Update, 5 p.m. Monday: Saint-Gobain has agreed to pursue one of the protesters' main demands — saying it will work to set up a new community group for Merrimack residents to weigh in on hazardous waste cleanup at the factor.

In a letter to those protesters, the company says it often sets up what it calls community advisory groups with residents and government officials near its major facilities. Saint-Gobain says it'll reach out to the town of Merrimack to start the process. They say the group could be a forum to address protesters' other concerns.

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.

Sara Ernst / NHPR

Presidential candidate Seth Moulton echoed the sentiments of local leaders gathered at Merrimack Town Hall: Increase access to PFAS testing and strengthen enforcement on the federal level.

 

Officials from Merrimack invited Moulton, as well as all the presidential hopefuls, to participate in a community discussion Monday to learn more about PFAS contamination in New Hampshire.

EPA

The Environmental Protection Agency says it will review the safety of four New Hampshire Superfund sites in 2019.

This year's reviews, which happen every five years at federally managed toxic waste sites, will include the former Pease Air Force Base and three old industrial sites and dumps in southern New Hampshire.

Robert Garrova for NHPR

Senator Jeanne Shaheen, NASA and state officials toured a company in Merrimack Monday that's making high-strength and lightweight materials using nanotechnology.

Nanocomp employee Hosea Hobbs demonstrated operation of a machine that turns carbon nanotubes into ultrastrong thread. Think of spinning wool inside of a hot furnace. Or, “kinda more like a cotton candy, but yeah, that's exactly what it's doing," Hobbs said.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

Some southern New Hampshire residents are furious the state isn’t acting more quickly to control PFAS chemical pollution. They heard the latest from regulators Wednesday night at a public meeting in Merrimack.

Two years after Merrimack’s Saint Gobain factory disclosed major PFAS air emissions, residents still feel the plant poses an immediate threat.

N.H. DES

 

State environmental officials will update Merrimack-area residents Wednesday night about progress on cleaning up PFAS chemical contamination around the Saint Gobain factory.

 

They will give a status report on work to connect residents with contaminated wells to public water. And they will talk about long-term plans to monitor contamination and regulate air emissions at the factory. 

 

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

 

The state has ordered the Saint Gobain plastics manufacturer to install air pollution controls on its Merrimack factory. 

 

The facility’s smokestacks are thought to be the source of high levels of PFAS chemicals that contaminated nearby drinking water wells two years ago. 

The Merrimack River will briefly run red Tuesday, as officials use dye to test the flow of storm water around a local factory.

The Department of Environmental Services says a contractor for plastics manufacturer Saint Gobain will deploy red dye into the river in Merrimack.

They say the dye will show how surface water and storm water interact in the river. The dye could be visible in the water for up to two hours.

Officials say they've done similar tests in the past at wastewater treatment plants on the Seacoast.

Town of Merrimack

The state has confirmed unsafe levels of PFAS chemical contamination at a town park and former industrial site in Merrimack.

This comes nearly a year after the site's owner first reported finding the toxins in groundwater at the former chemical plant and tannery.

Going Local: The Merrimack Valley

Aug 30, 2018
NH Dept of Resources and Economic Development / Division of Travel and Tourism Development

We look at the Merrimack Valley region as part of our summer series, Going Local. 

The state's most populated area is perhaps the one with the least identity as a "region," including big cities, growing suburbs, and rural towns. We find out what it's like to live there: what residents love and what they don't. 

New Hampshire’s congressional delegation wants more federal study of PFAS chemical contamination in Merrimack.  

The federal lawmakers wrote last week to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, an arm of the Centers for Disease Control.

That office has helped investigate health effects of PFAS contamination on the Seacoast. Now, the delegation wants them to do the same in Merrimack.

Sara Plourde; NHPR

The Exchange will explore a different region of the state every Thursday starting July 12th: the Great North Woods, the White Mountains, the Lakes Region, Dartmouth/Sunapee, the Monadnock Region, the Merrimack Valley, and the Seacoast. 

We look at what makes each region distinct, the biggest issues facing that part of the state, and what people who live there love about their home. 

The state will require more testing for PFAS chemicals at another former industrial site in Merrimack – the Harcros Chemical site, which is now the town's Watson Park.

PFAS-type chemicals are man-made, don't biodegrade and have been linked to a range of serious health problems. Regulators are investigating their presence at dozens of sites statewide.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

New Englanders had a chance to speak out this week about what they want to see in new Environmental Protection Agency rules for industrial chemicals in drinking water – but residents say the proof that they were heard will be in what the regulators do next.

Annie Ropeik for NHPR

Residents in and around Merrimack are nearing the end of a two-year struggle with contaminated drinking water.

Hundreds of private water wells near the Saint Gobain plastics factory have been contaminated during that time with suspected carcinogens called PFCs

FILE

Hundreds of people in a New Hampshire town have signed a petition asking a plastics company believed to be the source of tainted groundwater to pay for water filters at the town's schools.

The group of Merrimack residents says Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics has provided filtration in other towns with contaminated water, but taxpayers are currently paying to filter water at Merrimack schools.

Via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/7MMKBg

Merrimack residents will vote this month on giving the town control of their water utility.

It comes after two years of struggle with contamination in local wells, likely stemming from local plastics-maker Saint Gobain.

Laurene Allen co-founded Merrimack Citizens for Clean Water, and says the local public water company's board hasn't been transparent about its dealings with the polluter.

Todd Bookman/NHPR

On Tuesday, a  New Hampshire woman will ask a Superior Court judge to let her cross her name off the back of a $560-million winning lottery ticket. It’s not that she doesn’t want the money. It’s what comes with the sudden wealth that she’s trying to avoid.

The single winning Powerball ticket for the January 6th drawing—the seventh largest prize in U.S. history—was sold at Reeds Ferry Market in Merrimack. But rather than come forward and claim her prize, the winner instead has filed a lawsuit requesting that she get to stay out of the spotlight.

Todd Bookman/NHPR

The state Attorney General’s office says disclosing the name of lottery winners in New Hampshire “is not something done for the sake of curiosity or sales promotion,” but instead is a crucial step to ensure the Lottery Commission operates with integrity and accountability.

Paige Sutherland/NHPR

New Hampshire’s substance abuse crisis is often linked with a single type of drug: opioids. But another illicit drug is rising in use. That’s methamphetamines.

Over the past three years, meth cases have more than doubled each year in the state.

NHPR’s Paige Sutherland reports from one Southern New Hampshire town where meth use is raising particular concern.

FILE

A new report shows that recent PFOA water contamination in Merrimack does not appear to have resulted in higher cancer rates in town.

Special Drug Unit Coming to Merrimack, N.H.

Jan 26, 2018
Paige Sutherland/NHPR

The town of Merrimack will soon have a special drug unit to address a recent uptick in meth. The town council Thursday night unanimously voted to approve the additional officers.

Paige Sutherland for NHPR

Merrimack town councilors are set to vote Thursday on whether to create a specialized drug unit within the police force.

The proposal is in response to police reporting an influx of drug use at hotels in town – specifically meth use.

In just two weeks there have been 17 drug arrests, most involving meth.

Police Chief Denise Roy says without a drug unit, the department doesn’t have the time or resources to stop this from getting worse.

John K via Flickr CC

A state lawmaker wants entities that cause pollution in New Hampshire to pay in to the state's general fund as part of the cleanup.

NH Department of Health and Human Services

State health officials say residents on public water in Merrimack and Bedford have been exposed to perfluorochemicals, or PFCs, at rates higher than the general population, but lower than in some other exposed communities.

Blood tests from more than 200 residents in the two towns found levels of the chemical known as PFOA were roughly double what's found in the general population.

The contamination is thought to have come from a nearby Saint-Gobain performance plastics plant.

Emily Corwin / NHPR

Over a year ago, residents near Merrimack, New Hampshire learned their drinking water had been contaminated by emissions from a plastics plant owned by the multinational company, Saint-Gobain.  

More than a year later, some residents in Merrimack say state and federal officials haven’t done enough to protect them from the contamination. Now, a few are taking things into their own hands, going door to door.

  Anheuser-Busch has announced a multimillion-dollar expansion at one of its breweries in New Hampshire, eying growth in expanding craft or specialty beers.

The brewery in Merrimack will receive the $11.3 million expansion, allowing construction of new fermentation tanks for brewing craft beer.

NHPR Staff

In a week where violence by and against police has dominated the news, from Louisiana to Minnesota to Texas, we thought we’d take a look at recent police shootings in New Hampshire.

Since the beginning of 2015, four people have died at the hands of police officers in the state, and two police officers have been been shot, both surviving those incidents.

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