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Mar 23, 2016 9:53 PM

Nearly a thousand voice concerns at Merrimack meeting on contaminated water

MERRIMACK - It was standing room only in a room built for 900, as Merrimack residents brought their questions and concerns about their drinking water.

“Everyone must weigh in on this, because this transcends all political interests. This is about clean water and a clean environment,” said resident Chuck Mower.

The Department of Environmental Services is conducting an investigation into the water in areas of Merrimack and Litchfield after a chemical known as PFOA was recently found at elevated levels at Saint Gobain Performance Plastics. They’re currently testing in a one mile radius around the company.

“I have small children. I grew up in Merrimack myself and have had thyroid problems for years so I definitely have concerns,” said resident Taryn Swenson.

DES organized the meeting with the State Department of Health and Human Services and the town to provide updates. The experts say there are too many unknowns with these kinds of chemicals and their potential short and long term effects on health and the environment. Some studies say it is possible PFOA could cause some illnesses and certain cancers.

While there’s no regulation on PFOA levels, DES is giving out bottled water to anyone whose water tested over 100 parts per trillion.

They are waiting their own results, along with test results from Saint Gobain.

“We’re working very hard on this investigation to find out the amount of contamination in drinking water in the area and we’ll continue to be here until we can come up with more information,” said Jim Morgan, Public Information Officer for DES.

DES and DHHS both stressed this is very early on in the process, and they both promise to stay in touch with residents and the town. A similar meeting is being held tomorrow in Litchfield.

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