Concerned Residents Tour Coakley Landfill

There’s a detailed write-up in the Friday November 11, 2016 Portsmouth Herald by Jeff McMenemy about a site walk of the Coakley landfill hosted by the Coakley Landfill Group held on November 10. I recommend that one reads this to more fully understand the issues involved.

I attended the nearly two hour presentation along with over 50 concerned citizens, public officials and representatives of Environmental Protection Agency and N.H. Department of Environmental Services to hear a presentation by the Coakley Landfill Group.

We heard about how the landfill was capped and shown maps outlining the landfill itself and the monitoring wells that were established to measure water pressure and contaminants. We also heard how surface water flows off of the cap of the landfill and flows into retention ponds and into nearby streams. Officials would not commit to saying whether the landfill is harming ground water or private wells and claim the landfill is doing its job.

Governor Hassan formed a task force on the Seacoast Pediatric cancer cluster earlier this year after state officials determined that there was a small cancer cluster of rhabdomyosarcoma or RMS, which caused the deaths of several area children. Several area parents believe the cancers could have been triggered by environmental factors. Part of the task force’s work led to concerns about contamination from Coakley.

The task force appointed Representative elect Mindi Messmer of Rye, to chair a subcommittee that is studying the Coakley landfill. Its recommendations will be presented and voted on by the task force on November 16 at 3 p.m., in Portsmouth City Hall.

As your Representative elect from Greenland and Newington, I have been attending the regularly scheduled meetings of both the task force and its subcommittee and have given Ms. Messmer my commitment to work on fully understanding the hazards and risks that may be emanating from the landfill, and taking steps at the state level to mitigate any dangers and risks that are revealed.

Other elected officials who attended included outgoing state Rep. David Borden of New Castle, state Rep.-elect Mindi Messmer of Rye, Portsmouth Assistant Mayor Jim Splaine and Portsmouth state Rep. Jacqueline A. Cali-Pitts.