Source: https://patch.com, May 29, 2019
By: Tony Schinella
The state of New Hampshire has entered into two lawsuits against chemical and fire-retardant companies seeking damages by PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) to cleanup and restore groundwater and natural resources in the state. The lawsuits were announced on Wednesday by Gov. Chris Sununu, R-NH, Gordon MacDonald, the attorney general, and Bob Scott, the commissioner of the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services, and target companies for the manufacturing and dissemination of PFOA, PFOS, PFNA, and PFHxS in the state. They were filed in Hillsborough County Superior Court-North in Manchester on May 29, 2019.
The lawsuits, if successful, will recover all of the costs to investigation, clean, restore, treat, and monitor contamination in the state’s groundwater, surface water, wildlife, and other natural resources.
“New Hampshire is leading the nation in holding these polluting companies accountable,” Sununu said. “We are confident that this lawsuit will be a success, and that it will provide proper assistance to the state and our communities. And as we move forward with this lawsuit, we will continue to investigate strengthening our state’s drinking water standards – which have yet to be finalized – which will follow science and put the health and wellbeing of our citizens first.”
The suits target a number of companies including 3M, DuPont, Chemours, Chemguard, Tyco Fire, Buckeye Fire, National Foam, and Kidde-Fenwal. In them, officials that the companies knew of the dangers of PFAS chemicals but continued to produce and sell them without warning the public of the health risks.
“The action we are taking today is intended to ensure that those responsible for the PFAS contamination to our state’s drinking water supplies and other natural resources are held accountable,” added MacDonald. “As alleged in the lawsuits we are filing today, the defendants possessed unique knowledge of the dangers of PFAS chemicals but continued to make and sell them without warning the public of their health risks. We are committed to taking all legal action necessary to ensure that those responsible account for the damage to the state and its resources caused by PFAS.”
The NH DES has been informing the public about issues with PFAS for a number of years after contaminated water was found in Portsmouth in 2014, and in Merrimack at the Saint-Gobain plant in 2016. The discovery of issues in Merrimack led to findings of chemicals in groundwater in a number of neighboring communities including Amherst, Bedford, and Londonderry. Since that time, new water rules have been to introduced to ensure that drinking water is safe in the Granite State.
On the federal level, U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-NH, introduced a provision to the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act banning the use of PFAS in foam used by firefighters after October 2022, saying that the exposure to PFAS had adverse health effects in the state.
“The Department of Defense should be working proactively to eliminate its use in firefighting foam in order to prevent further harm,” she added. “Our service members and firefighters are occupationally more likely to come into contact with these chemicals, as are communities in the vicinity of military bases that use firefighting foam containing PFAS. Prevention needs to be part of our plan to combat PFAS exposure, which is why phasing out this type of firefighting foam is a necessary step forward.”