Officials: Firefighting foam contributed to elevated levels of PFOA measured near landfill

Foam used to fight fires on the site in the 1980s may have caused increased PFOA levels

Associated Press

SALEM, N.H. — Well monitoring has detected elevated levels of potentially cancer causing chemicals near a former landfill in Salem, environmental officials in New Hampshire said.

Water samples were collected from 10 monitoring wells adjacent to the former L.L. & S. Construction and Demolition Debris Landfill.

The 16-acre former landfill was unlined and operated from 1978 to 1984. Portions of the site were used as an auto salvage yard dating back to the 1950s. Firefighting foam used to extinguish fires at the site from the 1980s on may have contributed to elevated levels of PFOA and perfluorooctane sulfonate, or PFOS.

Last month, the state of New Hampshire has filed an emergency rule setting a state groundwater quality standard of 70 parts per trillion the chemicals. Samples near the former landfill measured as high as 260 parts per trillion.

The emergency rule remains in effect for 180 days.

PFOA, used in non-stick coatings, was first found in more than 50 wells in towns surrounding the Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics facility in Merrimack, New Hampshire.

The Department of Environmental Services says it's also been found in drinking water in Manchester, Bedford, Litchfield, Amherst, Portsmouth and Dover.

Saint-Gobain has agreed to pay for efforts to design a possible extension of public water service for the impacted wells around its New Hampshire plant.

In Vermont, more than 200 private water wells in and around the North Bennington area have been found with levels of PFOA as high as nearly 3,000 parts per trillion. Vermont has set an advisory level of 20 parts per trillion of PFOA in drinking water.

Those contaminated wells are in the area around the former Chemfab plant in North Bennington. Some have been found to contain levels of PFOA as high as nearly 3,000 parts per trillion. Vermont has set an advisory level of 20 parts per trillion of PFOA in drinking water.

Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin earlier this week signed a bill that gives the state more power to hold accountable companies that pollute the environment.

The new law signed Wednesday aims to protect Vermont residents against hazardous chemicals like PFOA.

The law gives the Agency of Natural Resources the power to request information from companies if a release is suspected, such as what chemicals they use at their Vermont facilities.

It also sets up a working group that will examine chemicals that are being used in the state and determine if any are potentially dangerous to the environment or to public health. The group will report to lawmakers by the end of this year.

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