Saint-Gobain paying for public water extension

Apr 20, 2017

BY: CCNH-LFDA Highlights

Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics is paying for public water extensions in at least four communities.

Most recently, the company is paying to design a public water extension to sixty-one homes in Bedford with private wells contaminated with perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA).

PFOA is a chemical used in firefighting foam, nonstick cookware, stain-resistant carpeting, and many other products. 

The long-term health effects of PFOA are not fully understood. While almost everyone has small amounts of PFOA in their body, some studies suggest long-term exposure is linked to cancer and other health problems.

The state Department of Environmental Services (DES) started testing for PFOA contamination in several communities last year.  They are supplying bottled water to homes with private wells with high levels of PFOA.  DES recommends public water service extensions for those areas.

Saint-Gobain, a plastics company, is probably responsible for the elevated levels of PFOA found in the water supply of homes near their manufacturing plant in Merrimack.

According to a press release from DES about Saint-Gobain’s assistance in public water extensions, “Saint-Gobain has made this commitment while NHDES continues to investigate other potentially responsible parties, who may also bear financial responsibilities. Saint-Gobain has done this because of their focus on public health of the local communities and their employees.”

The state legislature is also considering who is responsible for paying for public water extensions in communities with PFOA contamination.

Rep. Frank Byron is sponsoring HB 507, a bill that would establish a committee “to study the responsibility of a person who through their pollution makes drinking water non-potable.”  That bill passed the House and is now under consideration in the Senate.

Sen. Dan Innis is sponsoring SB 240.  That bill was amended to require a "responsible party" to monitor any contaminated water supplies and provide clean drinking water if necessary.  That bill was kept in committee for more work. 

Lastly, Sen. Jeb Bradley is sponsoring SB 57, a bill that includes a $5 million loan for Textiles Coated International to pay for a public water extension in Amherst.  That bill passed the Senate and is now under consideration in the House.

How do you think the state should hold companies responsible for PFOA contamination?  Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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