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PFAS Accountabili...

Legislation aimed at making sure federal agencies are held accountable for cleaning up PFAS contamination at military bases across the country has been introduced by NH Senators Shaheen and Hassan.

Thousands of people working at the Pease International Tradeport, along with children and infants who attended two day-care centers there, were exposed to multiple PFAS chemicals from contaminated water in the city-owned Haven well up until its closure in 2014.

The Shaheen-Hassan bi-partisan PFAS Accountability Act calls for federal facilities, including military installations, to expedite cooperative agreements with states to address PFAS contamination.

A complete article published in the Portsmouth Herald on Tuesday August 28, can be found below.

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Senator Shaheen T...

The contaminated site has detections 700 times higher than the EPA standard for PFAS chemicals. The new pump-and-treat system at Pease is designed to clean up the affected groundwater at the site and help prevent PFAS contaminated water from endangering residentals wells in Newington.

This plant is part of a $35 million to $40 million effort to clean up the water at the Pease International Tradeport and uses both granulated carbon and resins to remove PFAS chemicals.

An article published Saturday July 28 in the Portsmouth Herald can be found below.

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Concealing PFAS S...

In a letter to the Environomental Protection Agency and Department of Health and Human Services, the New Hampshire congressional delegation demanded they immediately release a draft health study that concludes PFAS chemicals can harm human health at levels far lower than the EPA has acknowledged.

"It is unacceptable and irresponsible that release of this study has been blocked for five months out of fear it would create a 'potential public relations nightmare,'" the delegation wrote.

A full report of this is found below under Press

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Establishing Crit...

An update on the the latest to change the legal limits on PFC's in groundwater and drinking water can be found in the Press section below.

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Senate Passes Bil...

I've attached both Portsmouth Herald and Manchester Union Leader reports on the NH Senate passage of House Bill 463 that better protects residents from PFCs in our water.

The Senate passed this bill unanimously despite the opposition of the Business and Industry Association of New Hampshire.

Senator Dan Innis R-New Castle called the passage "a pretty big deal," and encourages the DES to look beyond the EPA," when setting its health advisory standards for PFOS and PFOA.

I want to commend Senator Innis for his work in the face of the the BIA opposition. Senator Innis was instrumental in passing an amendment to HB 463 requiring the state Department of Environmental Services to initiate rulemaking for setting new standards of these chemicals.

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Senate Committee ...

The state Senate Energy Committee voted 5-0 to approve an amendment to House Bill 463, which would better protect state residents from PFCs in our water.

This bill requires the state Department of Environmental Services to to initiate rulemaking to consider states with lower standards that reasonably protect the public, particularly pre-natal and childhood health.

The bill will go to the Senate floor next week, and the amendment passed despite opposition from the Business and Industry Association of New Hampshire and DES. Rye Representative and bill sponsor Mindi Messmer says the bill sends an important message that it's an important issue to protect our most vulnerable populations, Mindi Messmer says.

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HB 485 Is Stalled

While this bill passed overwhelmingly in the NH House, it's been stalled in the House Finance Committee awaiting details on what its implementation may cost. Full details of the latest on this bill can be found below under the Press tab.

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Clean Water for NH

I am a co-sponsor of House Bill 485 that protects the unborn and infants from unsafe levels of chemicals, especially PFCs and 1.4-dioxane, in our drinking water. When enacted, this bill will help protect children and residents from unsafe levels of PFCs in Greenland, Rye, North Hampton, Merrimack, Litchfield, Manchester and Portsmouth. HB485 got a unanimous vote from the Subcommittee and is scheduled to be voted in committee on February 22, 2017. It’s expected to pass and be sent to the full House for a vote. Currently, EPA and NHDES feel that using adult rather than early life exposure is protective enough. We don't agree. This bill also protects the department by using a prescribed method and allowing the commissioner to enact criteria that are more stringent than the EPA.

Among many important things that the Governor specifically mentioned in his budget address is safe drinking water and protecting our most vulnerable - our children. These things go hand in hand when one talks about drinking water.

Supporting HB 485 and many others during this legislative session makes us an integral part of pushing forward on the Governor’s stated goals and this important effort in our state.

We know that PFCs are not safe in our drinking water at the current levels that NHDES allows. Ingestion of 50 ppt of PFOA (only one of the PFCs) has been shown to cause health effects in a landmark 69,000-person epidemiological study of DuPont workers. The results of this study have resulted in several judgements against DuPont and a $670 million dollar settlement this past week on 3,550 lawsuits

Other bills that seek to protect drinking water or address effects from are:

HB431 - Commission centers on protection of seacoast drinking water and mutual aid between towns
HB484 - Commission to continue the important work of the Task Force to investigate the Seacoast Pediatric Cancer Cluster
HB-511 - Commission to use existing data sources to identify threats to public health from environmental exposure. Also includes important development of guidelines for doctors and health care practitioners to respond to exposures from emerging contaminants (constituent requested amendment).
HB 507 establishing penalties for making drinking water non-potable
HB 486 protecting water resources by establishing state buffers around wetlands
HB 119 restoring state aid grants for water infrastructure
HB 173 giving municipality’s broader ability to prohibit lawn watering during droughts. (Passed RR&D)

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Greenland Selectm...

State Representative Mindi Messmer of Rye, NH and Jeff Barnum of the Conservation Law Foundation led a meeting of Greenland Selectmen and Greenland, NH residents on Monday showing the presence of perflourochemicals in surface water around Coakley landfill, including in Berry's Brook.

It's hoped these new results will lead to the Coakley Landfill Group help pay to pipe municipal water to Greenland residents after the town's selectmen requested the service.

Max Sullivan of Seacoastonline reported on the meeting and the complete article is attached in the Press section of this site.

The nearly two-hour meeting saw comments from residents, legislators, selectmen, the EPA and the NH Department of Environmental Services.

Greenland Selectmen earlier in the evening approved a warrant article for the March ballot to increase the town's budget by $25,000 in anticipation of expenses related to dealing with delivering clean water to town residents.

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Thanks To Greenl...

On Monday December 12, the Greenland Safe Water Action organized and presented before the Portsmouth City Council a compelling and emotional plea to provide safe drinking water to residents along Breakfast Hill Road in Greenland worried about their proximity to the Coakley Landfill.

Greenland Selectman Paul Sanderson requested that Portsmouth city councilors listen carefully to the Greenland residents assembled in the hall and invited the councilors to join with Greenland officials to find a way to bring safe drinking water to the affected area in Greenland.

The Portsmouth Herald provided extensive coverage of the meeting and followed up with more in-depth analysis of the situation. The articles are attached in the Press section of this site.

I want to commend Greenland Safe Water Action for organizing a thoughtful, and information packed presentation.

I noticed that the Portsmouth councilors were engaged and listening carefully to Greenland residents who are in the path of the potentially expanding plume that may contain toxic substances leaching from the Coakley Landfill.

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Municipal Water I...

At the Wednesday Seacoast Pediatric Cancer Cluster Task Force meeting the group unanimously passed their investigation into two types of rare childhood cancers, which also included a series of recommended actions.

Full Portsmouth Herald coverage of the meeting can be found in the Press section of this website.

I'm also pleased to announced that I've been elected to the Task Force subcommittee investigating the Coakley Landfill. The next meeting of the subcommittee will be this Wednesday in Rye.

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It's Time to Prov...

I was saddened to read this morning that Portsmouth’s City Planner Peter Britz, writing on behalf of the Coakley Landfill Group that “public water connections requested by the town of Greenland are neither necessary nor warranted at this time.” This response gives little comfort to Greenland residents who live near the Coakley Landfill site, especially the 50 who in good conscious made an impassioned and reasoned plea at Monday night's Greenland Selectman meeting to protect them against potential contaminants flowing out of the site.

The full text of Peter Britz’s response is included on the media section of my site.

Families who live near the site didn’t bargain for this when they decided to settle in Greenland, raise their families, attend our school and enjoy this beautiful setting in the Seacoast.

I applaud the Greenland Selectmen who unanimously called for Portsmouth to supply public water to these frightened families, water that is pumped from our own well in Greenland!

It was clear during last Monday’s Greenland Selectman’s meeting that our town’s elected officials are on top of this and strongly encouraged our residents to take this matter directly to the Portsmouth City Council. Greenland Town Administrator Karen Anderson said that the management teams of the affected communities are also actively communicating about this concern that stretches beyond Greenland.

I was heartened to read that It sounds like Greenland will get a hearing by the Portsmouth City Council as reported in the December 14, 2016 Portsmouth Herald. We should. Portsmouth was the biggest use of the landfill in North Hampton and Greenland from 1972-1982. Greenland has unfortunate distinction of hosting this site.

At least our elected officials are demonstrating their care and concern. It would be nice if those who are responsible for the management and oversight of the landfill would demonstrate this same concern for the safety and health of our citizens.

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Tests Reveal High...

A test of surface water taken from Breakfast Hill showed levels of PFCs nearly three times the permanent lifetime health advisory level for drinking water.

The Conservation Law Foundation conducted the tests on three samples taken from surface water around the Coakley landfill after state Rep.-elect Mindi Messmer approached the group with her concerns about contaminants leaching from the Superfund site, Great Bay–Piscataqua waterkeeper Jeff Barnum said Wednesday.

A complete Seacoast On-Line article published December 1, can be found here under the Press tab of my website.

This is an important and troubling development in finding remediation for Greenland residents who live near the Coakley site. Greenland Selectmen and Town Administrator Karen Anderson are paying very close attention to these developments and I am working with state Rep-elect Mindi Messmer to file legislation to put a permanent commission in place to deal with this and the other 150 landfill sites in New Hampshire.

I will publish more on the path of the legislation as this develops and keep you informed on the activities of our Greenland officials who do understand the seriousness of this situation.

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Concerned Residen...

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.

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Additional Wells ...

A subcommittee of a task force formed to address the environmental and health threats posed by the Coakley landfill will hold its first meeting Thursday October 13.

Mindi Messmer, a scientist, environmental consultant and Rye resident is chair of the newly formed committee and says that members of the public will be able to pose questions to members of the state Department of Environmental Services and Environmental Protection Agency.

The meeting will begin at 6 p.m. and will be held at the Rye Junior High School.

The EPA just issued a series of new recommendations recently aimed at monitoring PFCs and other chemicals around the Coakley landfill in an effort to prevent water contamination around the Superfund cleanup site.

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Cancer Cluster Ta...

The Governor’s Task Force on the Seacoast Cancer Cluster formed a subcommittee on September 14, to focus specifically on the Coakley landfill and the implications of the contamination and what can be done to deal with it.

The subcommittee was formed as concerns about toxins from the Superfund cleanup site contaminating water and area wells continues to grow.

Subcommittee Chair Mindi Messmer said, “The key role is to really get down to working with DES to come up with a plan for evaluating Coakley.”

DES project manager of the Coakley site, Drew Hoffman said the state plans to send out postcards to residents living east of the landfill who might not have connected to public water line that was installed in 1980s. He said DES will also continue to monitor for contaminants in private wells to the north of the landfill.

Hoffman said this is an area where we’ve put a lot of our efforts and concern, largely due to the cluster of private wells that are tapping the water to the north and drinking that water.

DES is working with the Coakley Landfill Group to test surface water from Berry Brooke and Little River near the landfill. He said DES will also be working with the town of Greenland to test private wells and the help analyze the test results.

The Environmental Protection Agency’s Jim Murphy said the five year review of the Coakley landfill is almost complete and will release the findings at the end of the month. He said EPA officials are looking closely at contamination of groundwater outside the landfill by 1.4 dioxane and PFCs.

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Greenland Selectm...

I want to commend the Greenland Selectmen for devoting a major portion of their August 8, meeting to hearing the concerns of residents who live close to the Coakley landfill. It has now been reported that elevated concentrations of perfluorochemicals have been found in non-residential groundwater monitoring well samples collected beyond the footprint of Coakley landfill. The next step will be to determine if water is affected as it moves outside of the landfill’s footprint, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. It’s also reported that the 16 residential wells evaluated in Greenland and North Hampton met the state’s groundwater standards.

The Selectmen expressed their concern and stated that they will do everything they can to insure that our residents are safe and that this water situation will be given their full attention. A Sunday August 14, editorial by the Portsmouth Herald said “immediate action is needed and local, state and federal governments must do their job promptly.” The Herald said the solution is to extend public water to all residences with wells in which testing revealed the presence of PFCs.

Officials with both the state of New Hampshire and State Representative Tom Sherman, who heads the Governor’s Cancer Cluster Task Force said that everything about PFCs are new to us, and that testing is fussy. There are only a small number of labs who are fully capable of accurately measuring this contaminant and they are getting “slammed” with these requests. There is about a 6 week delay between submitting sample and receiving results. These contaminants have only recently been regulated so the testing processes are new and the EPA is asking labs to develop reliable and standard testing procedures.

I’m encouraged by our local official’s attention to this and their clear interest in protecting our residents. Testing is on-going and results are coming in. Federal, state and local officials are on top of this and I’m confident that plans for pure water will be developed and implemented.

As your state representative for Greenland and Newington, I will work hard on your behalf to help insure this matter is given top priority and that remedial actions will be taken.

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PFC's Found at Co...

Preliminary test results of eight wells show elevated levels of PFC’s at the Coakley landfill. The following is an article by Jeff McMenemy of Seacoast Online, published June 30, 2016.

The wells were tested after concerns were raised by area residents that exposure from contaminants at the landfill – and several other potential sites – could be triggering a Seacoast pediatric cancer cluster.

Jim Martin, public information officer for the state Department of Environmental Services, said the combined test results for perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) ranged anywhere from 71 parts per trillion to 1,108 parts per trillion.

PFOS and PFOA are a class of chemicals known as perfluorochemicals or PFCs. The Environmental Protection Agency recently set its permanent health advisory for PFOS and PFOA at 70 parts per trillion.

The federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry has stated that studies on people exposed to PFCs showed certain PFCs may be associated with developmental delays in the fetus and child, decreased fertility, increased cholesterol, changes to the immune system and prostate, kidney and testicular cancer.

Letters went out Thursday to people living near the now closed landfill in North Hampton and Greenland stating DES would be setting up appointments so their private wells can be tested for the contaminants, Martin said late Thursday afternoon. He did not have an exact number of how many private wells would be tested, but said it’s likely many will be wells previously tested before for other contaminants found at or around Coakley landfill.

“Previous testing has been done on some of these properties,” Martin said.

DES will only provide bottled water to homeowners whose water tests show levels of PFCs above the state’s Ambient Groundwater Quality Standard of 70 parts per trillion (ppt), Martin said. “We wouldn’t do that as a preventative measure,” he said.

DES is hoping to have the sampling done in the “next couple of weeks,” Martin said, and the tests will be analyzed by the EPA’s regional lab in Chelmsford, Massachusetts.

Several Seacoast children have died from rhabdomyosarcoma, or RMS, one of the two rare types of childhood cancer the state determined was part of a Seacoast cancer cluster.

The state looked at the number of RMS cases in Rye, New Castle, Greenland, North Hampton and Portsmouth, according to a report it released. While investigating the RMS cases, the state also identified a second cancer cluster involving a rare pediatric cancer called pleuropulmonary blastoma (PPB).

Tests for PFCs were done at the monitoring wells in response to a request by state Rep. Tom Sherman, D-Rye, and the town of North Hampton. The tested wells were previously installed to monitor the potential impact of the landfill on groundwater, according to a joint press release from DES and EPA.

The test results are “still under third party review for quality assurance,” according to the release.

The Coakley Landfill Group, an organization of municipalities that brought trash to the landfill, will also be required to do tests farther from the landfill site, according to Jim Murphy, who works on EPA Superfund sites. Murphy said the monitoring wells that were tested are “almost on the fence line” of the landfill.

Sherman called the plan to test private wells and monitoring wells outside the landfill “absolutely the most prudent step to take.”

“They need to test until they get to a point where they’re negative,” Sherman, a doctor, said about future tests for PFCs. “They also need to do it as quickly as possible.”

He raised the question if the nearby private wells were “drawing off a plume” and in turn drawing the plume (containing PFCs) closer to their wells. “What is the extent of the plume and what is the continued risk of using the wells,” Sherman said.

Depending on what further tests show, part of the remediation for the contamination could be “shutting down wells that are drawing it.”

“Number one, I’m glad they did the tests,” Sherman said. “The next step is to figure out what it means. We’ve got a lot of work to do.”

He also suggested state and federal officials should discuss testing surface water for “PFCs that drain out of Coakley.” “I think it’s prudent to at least raise the question,” Sherman said.

The investigation into the pediatric cancer cluster shows why “it’s so important that we understand the impact of industry on our environment,” Sherman said.

“It’s a direct health impact,” he added. “We have to make sure we don’t let this happen in the future.”

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EPA Will Test For...

Seacoastonline reported on April 28, 2016 that the Environmental Protection Agency has agreed to test for PFC’s in the water around the Coakley Landfill in Rye and North Hampton.

The news was delivered to the North Hampton Select Board by Governor Maggie Hassan after the North Hampton Select Board wrote to the EPA earlier this week asking it to test for a whole range of PFCs.

While the EPA has agreed to test the water at the Coakley Landfill, it was requested that the EPA expand the testing area to include the two watersheds near the landfill and expand to test private wells in the area.

A group of officials including state lawmakers will be pushing the EPA to expand the testing area according to State Rep. David Borden, D-New Castle.

This is an important development regarding the Coakley Landfill and for everyone affected by the water concerns at the former Pease Air Force Base and Seabrook Station.

I stand with Representative Borden and other elected officials to expand the test area and provide leadership in ensuring our water is safe and the possible contamination from these sites is contained.

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Coakley Landfill ...

A Greenland town meeting was held on April 14, organized by the Coakley Landfill Group, the EPA and the NH Dept. of Environmental Services. A summation of the EPA's position appears below, and is taken from their official site.

The Q & A provided the most interesting insight into how residential and commercial development stresses the ground water system, and may be affecting how the contaminants from Coakley spread. In my opinion, many attendees gained an understanding about how both residential and business water uses can affect the spread of contaminants.

The EPA did say there are ways to prevent the "flume" (surface groundwater that may contain contaminants) from spreading, and I thought this prompted one of the most valuable parts of the meeting because it helped local residents understand how important it is to weigh in on planning board review processes that can directly affect the safety of our drinking water and our quality of life. Greenland town officials, selectmen and planning board members attended and do appreciate and welcome everyone’s input while making these important decisions for Greenland.

There was a lot of information about water testing, contaminants and toxicity, and very detailed technical information is available through the NH DES and EPA. While we do live next to a Superfund site, there still are decisions and plans that we can make that help insure water quality for today and tomorrow.

Here's the EPA's overview of the Coakley Landfill site.

EPA’s Involvement at this Site
The privately owned landfill accepted municipal and industrial wastes from the Portsmouth area between 1972 and 1982. Incinerator residue was also accepted from the incineration recovery plant for a refuse-to-energy project between 1982 and 1985. The primary source of contamination is the landfill. VOCs and metals are the primary contaminants. On- and off-site surface water and groundwater are contaminated. The site is located on a groundwater/surface water divide, and residential wells to the south, southeast and northeast are contaminated with low levels of VOCs. Residential and commercial areas surround the site.

Since EPA issued its 1990 source control cleanup plan and its 1994 groundwater cleanup plan for the site, the acceptable level of arsenic in drinking water has changed to one fifth of what it was. EPA changed the arsenic standard for the site to match this new level. Since these cleanup plans were issued, the State of New Hampshire has updated its environmental regulations. For the source control cleanup plan, the chemical tetrahydrofuran has been added as an additional chemical of concern because groundwater monitoring detected this contaminant at levels exceeding state standards. In 2008, the site’s potentially responsible parties (PRPs) put in place groundwater restrictions and will continue to monitor groundwater quality at the site yearly until cleanup levels for all contaminants are met.

The site is being addressed through state, federal and potentially responsible party (PRP) actions. The provision of an alternate drinking water supply has reduced the potential for exposure to groundwater contamination. Since completion of the landfill cap in 1998, groundwater flows away from nearby residences and contamination levels are slowly declining.

EPA has conducted several five-year reviews of the site’s remedy. These reviews ensure that the remedies put in place protect public health and the environment, and function as intended by site decision documents. The 2011 five-year review indicated more analysis was needed to determine whether the groundwater monitoring zone should be expanded and more restrictions put in place. An April 2013 evaluation indicated that some wells should be sampled again for 1,4-dioxane, sampling could stop in other wells and the groundwater monitoring zone should be expanded.

Overall, the five-year review concluded that the remedy at the site protects human health and the environment in the short term. Long-term protectiveness has also been achieved at the source based on continued maintenance of the landfill cap, long-term monitoring and land use restrictions. Groundwater levels will also be protective when cleanup levels for all contaminants of concern are met and restrictions on the use of groundwater can be removed.

Last updated on April 15, 2016