PORTSMOUTH – City officials announced plans to return the Haven Well to service this week, seven years after it closed due to the presence of toxic PFAS chemicals in the water.
The city received clearance from NH’s Environmental Services Department “for the reactivation of the Haven Well,” after the upgraded Pease water treatment facility – designed to remove PFAS from water sources in the city. city - became fully operational earlier this year.
DES stated that “the laboratory results provided as part of the request (to bring the Haven well online) demonstrate that the quality of the finished water while treating the Haven well meets current standards, including PFAS non-detection levels “.
History of the Haven well PFAS exposure
Thousands of people – including children and infants attending two daycare centers at the former Pease Air Force Base – were exposed to PFAS chemicals in the Haven Well until it closed in 2014.
The water was contaminated by the fire fighting foam used at the former Pease air base.
In addition to being a suspected carcinogen, exposure to PFAS can adversely affect a child’s development, increase cholesterol levels, harm the immune system and interfere with human hormones, according to the Toxic Substances and Registry Agency. diseases.
The DES permit means the three wells owned by the city at Pease International Tradeport – the Haven, Smith and Harrison wells – can operate at full capacity, according to the city.
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“The restoration of the Haven Well in the City of Portsmouth water supply system marks another milestone in the progressive seven-year plan, working with the Air Force Civil Engineering Center to respond to the presence of PFAS contaminants that affected the drinking water of three Pease. wells, ”said Brian Goetz, deputy director of the Portsmouth Public Works Department. “The first milestone this year for the drinking water system was the completion of the upgrade of the Pease water treatment facility in April. Testing and reactivating the Haven well is the next step. Our success in filtering the Haven well restores that supply to the drinking water system.
Test for the grateful, still worried Pease boss
Portsmouth mother and activist Andrea Amico is one of the co-founders of Testing For Pease, a community advocacy group that responded to the contamination of the Haven Well and the exposure of Seacoast residents to toxins .
Amico said that “Testing for Pease has expressed concerns about the use of drinking water from a Superfund site since the PFAS contamination was first discovered at the Pease Tradeport.
“I understand that water resources are limited and we must do everything possible to protect, preserve and restore the sources of drinking water in our community,” she said on Monday. “However, knowing that thousands of people in Pease have been exposed to high levels of PFAS in drinking water for decades without the knowledge of our regulators, state and city officials and our community is deeply disturbing. This begs the question: What else is there in the water that we don’t know? ”
She further stated that she was “grateful for the significant resources and the collaboration that has taken place to filter the water in Pease”.
“I really am because I see so many other PFAS affected communities across our country waiting and waiting for meaningful action,” Amico said. “I can be grateful while being deeply concerned about the vast historical contamination of Pease when it came to an active air base and the price we all still pay today.”
Amico worked with national and local authorities to encourage people to enroll in the ongoing Pease health study to help determine the health effects of exposure to PFAS.
“I keep in mind that today, as I travel to neighboring communities and place signs on the Pease study to help recruit exposed community members to participate in a study on Pease. health so that we can better understand how PFAS exposure to Pease has impacted our health, that more has been done at Pease and hundreds of other military sites across the country to stop or reduce the exposure.
She also highlighted the “many lessons to be learned from our history at Pease”.
“One of them is that we shouldn’t be using drinking water sources from a Superfund site with a long history of contamination that has taken decades to remedy and is still not over,” said Amico. “I don’t want another family to go through the pain, guilt and anxiety that my family and many other members of the Pease community continue to endure because we have been infected without consent and poisoned without permission.
Splaine also has words of warning
Deputy Mayor Jim Splaine said he was delighted “that it looks like we were able to process the PFAS in the Haven well.”
“This is good news, I just hope it will do the job it is supposed to do, and I think it will,” Splaine said of the water treatment system.
But he warned that even if the Haven well comes back online, “we need to be aware that there may be a lot of other pollution in Pease that we don’t yet know about.”
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Splaine served on the Pease Redevelopment Commission in 1990, which was the predecessor of the Pease Development Authority.
He was struck during meetings at the old air base by “the possibility of extraordinary pollution” at the site.
“That’s why it eventually became a Superfund site. I believe even 50 years from now we’re going to find more pollution in Pease, ”Splaine said. “We have to be very careful with everything we do there. “
Splaine, who was one of the first city councilors to push for action in Pease, also stressed the importance of staying vigilant when testing the Haven well.
“If there is any additional pollution from the Haven well or any other environmental threat at Pease, the public should be notified immediately,” he said.
City officials described the process of removing PFAS from water at Pease as a “sophisticated multi-stage treatment system that includes cartridge, resin and GAC (granular activated carbon) filtration.”
Air Force doctor greets the opening
Dr Stephen TerMaath, of the Air Force Civil Engineer Center’s Base Realignment and Program Management division, called the news “a major achievement for the city of Portsmouth under the leadership of water officials from the city”.
“The city worked with all stakeholders, including state and EPA regulators, engaged citizens and elected officials to design and build a water treatment system, with funding from the ‘Air Force, using the best available technology for the protection of public health,’ TerMaath said.
Learn more about the Pease Health Study
the Pease Health Study, which was created by legislation championed by US Senator Jeanne Shaheen, D-New Hampshire, is looking for a total of 1,000 adults who have been exposed to contaminated water and 350 children between the ages of 4 and 17.
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The study is being conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and ATSDR. To register for the study, dial 603-846-6192.