State: Company 'Potentially Responsible' in Water Cleanup

MERRIMACK, N.H. (AP) — A manufacturer is "potentially responsible" for the cleanup of an area that has shown elevated levels of the chemical used to make Teflon coatings in wells and drinking water, New Hampshire's Environmental Services Department said.

The department's letter to Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics, dated Friday, came after it found 20 wells within a 1-mile radius of the Merrimack facility showing higher levels of the chemical PFOA.

The department requests that Saint-Gobain provide bottled water to affected properties; submit a plan for soil sampling and analysis; provide for the installation and monitoring of water treatment systems to remove contamination; and provide for the connection of residences and businesses to a public water supply.

The department has been providing bottled water to some residents who were using private wells with higher levels of the chemical in Merrimack and Litchfield. It will reassess the situation when the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency provides more guidance on a health advisory for lifetime exposure to PFOA.

"Based on the information available to date, the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services has determined that Saint-Gobain is potentially responsible for the cleanup of the site, restoration of impacted groundwater and drinking water, other actions necessary to protect public health and the environment," as well as the department's costs addressing impacts of the contamination, the letter said.

The company was preparing a response Tuesday to a request for comment from The Associated Press.

Saint-Gobain found the presence of PFOA in its drinking water earlier this year and notified the DES. It conducted its own testing after PFOA was found in the Hoosick Falls, New York, water supply, and in some private wells in North Bennington, Vermont, near other Saint-Gobain facilities. In New York, Saint-Gobain and Honeywell International were sued in February after regulators identified them as potentially responsible for chemical contamination in Hoosick Falls' water.

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