Londonderry resident, Glenn Douglas, filed a 91-A request last Friday, Nov. 8, with the town’s Administrative Support Coordinator Steve Cotton, following a discussion that took place during the Town Council meeting held the previous evening.
At that meeting, Douglas told the Town Council members that he was presented at the Water Quality Study presentation, in the previous Town Council meeting, on Oct. 28. Douglas said that he heard Merrimack had a major problem with water contamination. He attended the Public Hearing, held last Monday (Nov. 5) in Merrimack held by the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (NHDES). During that meeting the NHDES presented an update regarding the Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics Site Investigation. Douglas said that the entire Public Hearing revolved around the PFOAs (Teflon and Per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances).
During that Public Hearing, it was said that Merrimack is investigating $20 million in a water purification system in order to eliminate the PFOAs in the water. The contamination area (that is attributed to the Saint-Gobain plant in Merrimack) has spread over 64 square miles and is one of the largest contaminations of PFOAs in the country.
However, the biggest issue in the Public Hearing was an air cleaner that Saint-Gobain will install, so PFOAs do not sneak into the air. The cost to Saint-Gobain for this equipment is $3 million, but it also creates hydrogen fluoride. Hydrogen fluoride when combined with moisture, creates hydrofluoric acid, which is toxic. The NH DES stated that the amount of hydrogen flouride emission would be less that maximum, but Merrimack residents voiced concerns given the history of PFOA/.
Douglas then referred the council members to a warrant article (number 17) that passed in the town’s 2018 elections and approved the use of $35,000 for “the purpose of conducting a study of the town’s air and water quality.” Douglas asked if the town is doing anything to monitor what is in the air in Londonderry.
Town Council Chairman John Farrell responded that the town is moving forward with this issue as fast as it can and that residents who live west of High Range Rd. have already been receiving letters in order to test their wells. However, regarding the air quality issue, his response was: “Now is probably a good time, as we are going through the budget, to see what we can do.” This was said despite the fact the study had already been approved, nearly two years ago, after receiving a unanimous recommendation from the Town Council. Douglas responded that the warrant article previously passed funded a water and air quality study.
Councilor Tom Dolan answered Douglas and said that the town does check air quality, at the station located near the kindergarten. He added that he does not think the town is checking for PFOAs in the air at the moment, since air standards are new and the town does not have the capability to check PFOS compounds as yet. Dolan added that the town is beginning its assault on the PFOAs water contamination issue. The town has engaged the outside town attorney to see what the legal options may be for effected Londonderry residents. He added that there might be a tax impact at some point, if new equipment needs to be purchased and installed to resolve these issues. When contacted for comment Douglas responded that the Moose Hill monitoring station has been there for years. The town authorized an air study and we have yet to see an air quality report.