Several residents whose water supply wells were found to have been affected by the Tinkham Garage Superfund Site were connected in the fall to an existing Pennichuck water line.
Prior to the connection, the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (DES) installed point of entry treatment systems and supplied bottled water to residents whose well water exceeded drinking water standards.
The 375-acre Tinkham Garage site, located in Londonderry, is the result of oil, oily wastes, washings from septic tank trucks and other substances discharged at the site between 1978 and 1979, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
In 1978, residents complained of foam and odors in a small, unnamed brook, which prompted an investigation.
“The investigation revealed improper waste disposal had occurred and the State ordered the site owner to prevent further degradation of the surface water and groundwater in the area,” the EPA wrote on a website detailing the Superfund Program. “In early 1983, drinking water wells at the Londonderry Green Apartment complex and several other private supply wells were closed due to contamination, and residents were provided access to a municipal water supply.”
According to the EPA’s recent notification, the agency has modified the cleanup decision for the Tinkham Garage Superfund Site in Londonderry to allow for the connection to and use of a public water supply as an acceptable option to prevent human exposure to groundwater concentrations above drinking water standards.
“Although point-of-entry treatment systems are protective, they required monitoring and maintenance,” the EPA wrote.
The parties responsible for conducting the cleanup of the Superfund Site contracted with a private utility to extend the existing Pennichuck waterline to residents whose wells were impacted by the site, replacing the need for the treatment system and monitoring.
John Trottier, Assistant Director of Public Works, said the remaining two impacted residences are to be connected to the water line in the spring.
So far, Trottier said he has not received any calls from residents with concerns about the water line connection.
At a public meeting last year with representatives for the EPA and the DES, some residents expressed concerns with their future water costs.
“I think the focus for us is it’s not an issue coming onto Pennichuck water. The issue is, why do we have to pay for it?” asked Brian Dingman of 18 Charleston Ave. “I figure I’m going to use $250 to $300 per month for my irrigation at the house. As anyone would think, I didn’t cause this problem – why aren’t they paying for it?”
EPA Remedial Project Manager Cheryl Sprague said federal regulations allow them to put in the water line, but do not provide for the federal government to pay for the water.
In the case of the proposed water line extension to the affected homes, the “Responsible Parties,” a group of 30 companies responsible for the remediation of the Tinkham Superfund Site, will pay for the connection.
The waterline to be extended was installed in 1983 to provide alternative water to more than 400 residents living southwest of the Tinkham Garage Superfund Site.
Sprague noted that to date, none of those residents have had their water subsidized by the Responsible Parties.
A full description of the EPA’s modified cleanup decision can be found in the March 2016 Explanation of Significant Differences, available for viewing online at www.epa.gov/superfund/tinkham or at the Leach Library.