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Jun 29, 2015 5:52 PM

Portsmouth searches for new water well after closure of contaminated one


PORTSMOUTH - The port city's Department of Public Works is searching for at least one new well following the closure of another contaminated well last May.

“Losing it has some impact on the overall system, but we’re responding to it and hope to get other supplies online in the near future," said Deputy Director Brian Goetz.

Goetz said the city is meeting weekly as their search continues for one or more wells to replace the Haven Well, which was closed last year after testing showed perfluorochemical (PFC's) levels about ten times higher than safe levels recommended by the EPA.

The Haven Well, located on the former site of Pease Air Force base, was the city's most productive in volume, pumping out 10 percent of the city's supply at nearly 1 million gallons per day.

“So we’re being very active in trying to find a replacement for that," Goetz said. "Finding a well that can just do that amount of water is not quick and easy – it is a longer process.”

Meanwhile, blood testing by the CDC has continued for those who may have consumed the contaminated water.

Results returned this month showed some elevated toxin levels. At least one doctor is also asking for treatment of additional nearby wells to ensure they aren't dangerously contaminated as well.

The city says they have hired a consultant to determine whether that is necessary.

A daycare within the Pease Tradeport has also started taking extra measures by adding Brita filters on faucets to ensure children consuming the water are safe.

“We want to do whatever we can do to ensure that the safety of the children for us in this particular field is number one," said Tim Bateman, Interim Executive Director of Great Bay Kids' Company. "So it’s important to us that – if we can – we’d like to have no PFC’s coming into the building.”

Bateman said tests by U.S. Air Force showed a significant decrease in toxins by adding the filters.

A public meeting is scheduled on July 15 to discuss the ongoing research efforts on the local impacts of the contaminants.

The suspected cause of contamination was a firefighting foam used years ago by the U.S. Air Force on the grounds at Pease.

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