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 mmedsger@cabinet.com.