Amherst properties positive for chemical
113 contaminated wells
AMHERST – The state Department of Environmental Services announced last week that it would expand the distribution of bottled water to include an additional 113 properties in Amherst affected by perfluorinated chemical – or PFC – contamination of their private wells.
Water will be issued to those residents within a half mile of the former Textiles Coated International facility on Amherst Street whose wells have tested above the newly established state ambient groundwater quality standard for perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) of 70 parts per trillion, according to the department.
"Bottled water delivery will be temporarily expanded to include properties in Amherst served by private wells within a half-mile radius of 105 Route 101A, the former location of Textiles Coated International," the DES said in a press release.
"DES made this decision to provide the bottled water to help protect the public’s health based on the detection of some private drinking water wells within that area having concentrations greater than 70 parts per trillion of PFOA and PFOS combined."
The DES said other wells tested in that area have fallen below the state’s PFC limit and no wells tested near the former TCI facility, but outside the half-mile testing radius, have shown levels above the state limit.
Delivery of bottled water has already begun. The DES said additional resources are available at the Amherst Police Station for eligible families that require more.
The DES has described the delivery of bottled water as a temporary solution to an ongoing problem.
"The provision of bottled water serves as an interim measure while NHDES continues to investigate and determine the concentrations of contaminants actually present and the appropriate long-term remedy for addressing wells containing elevated levels of the PFCs in groundwater," the DES said. "The bottled water being provided to residents has tested ‘non-detect’ (levels too low to detect) for all PFC, including PFOA and PFOS."
Testing of wells in Amherst follows the discovery and voluntary disclosure of the presence of PFOA in the tapwater at the Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics facility in Merrimack. Further investigation into the cause of PFC contamination has revealed several sites affected by the chemicals.
Exposure to PFCs has been linked to several serious diseases, including some types of cancer. The chemicals, which have seen widespread use since the end of World War II, are environmentally persistent and do not easily breakdown in air, soil or water.
According to a letter sent by the DES to TCI CEO John Tippett, that company is the likely source of the contaminant in Amherst and therefore potentially responsible for bearing the cost of cleanup.
"Based on the information available to date, the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services has determined that TCI is potentially responsible for the cleanup of the site, restoration of impacted groundwater and drinking water, other actions necessary to protect public health and the environment, and any costs DES incurs for investigating and addressing the sources and impacts of this contamination," the department said in a letter dated June 3.
Matthew Medsger can be reached at 594-6531 or firstname.lastname@example.org.