New Hampshire state officials found a potentially cancer-causing chemical in Merrimack’s former landfill but cannot say if it contaminated any nearby private wells.
The chemical perfluorooctanoic acid, or PFOA, is more widespread in New Hampshire than initially thought, said officials at the state’s Department of Environmental Services.
The chemical, used in Teflon coatings, was found in over 50 wells in towns surrounding the Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics facility in Merrimack and has since been found in 11 private wells near a former manufacturing site operated by Textiles Coated International in Amherst.
The revelations about Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics, based in Solon, Ohio, also prompted the state environmental services department to start looking across New Hampshire for facilities that used PFOA.
Earlier this month, the state released a list of more than 40 companies that were possible past or present users of PFOA. The list includes two Textiles Coated International sites.
Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics Chief Executive Tom Kinisky said the source of the chemical contamination can’t be definitively linked to the company because the chemical was so pervasive in recent decades, used in Gore-Tex jackets, ski wax and the linings of pizza boxes and microwave popcorn bags.
Textiles Coated International, based in Manchester, said it remains “fully committed to health, safety, and environmental compliance” and will work with the state “to fix the problem.”
In the latest contamination, state officials said, the Environmental Protection Agency tested monitor wells adjacent to the Merrimack landfill and found PFOA levels more than five times limits recommended by the EPA. The 25-acre site, which includes two landfills, ended up operated by the city from the 1970s to 2003 and received waste from households and businesses in Merrimack.
State officials said it was unclear how the chemical got into the landfill and who is responsible for the contamination.
Officials also found PFOA near Saint-Gobain’s now-shuttered plant in North Bennington, VT, and in the water supply in Hoosick Falls, NY, where the company has two plants.