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EPA Sets June PFAS Event In New Hampshire

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The Environmental Protection Agency

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is inviting Vermonters to attend a regional summit on unregulated PFAS chemicals later this month in New Hampshire.

Following a summit in Washington D.C. in May, the EPA has scheduled a two-day event in Exeter, New Hampshire to hear from people affected by PFAS chemicals.

Communities like Merrimack, New Hampshire and Bennington, Vermont have been dealing with water sources contaminated with PFOA. It’s the same compound that’s been found in wells in Hoosick Falls and Petersburgh, New York, and part of a larger group of chemicals that remains unregulated at the federal level.

After traveling to Washington for the national summit in May, Vermont Agency of Natural Resources Deputy Secretary Peter Walke told WAMC that people living with contaminated water deserve to be heard. Nobody from Bennington was invited to the Washington summit.

“Those communities who have been living this crisis really need to be heard and have the opportunity to pass on what they’ve learned and what their experiences are,” said Walke.

The EPA is now asking New England residents interested in attending the listening session on June 25th to sign up online. Those interested in speaking can request a 3-minute time slot. Comments will also be accepted online.

New Hampshire will be the agency’s “first stop” as it hears from affected communities.

Vermont State Senator Brian Campion, a Democrat from Bennington, says he hopes to attend. Democrats in the state legislature remain at odds with Republican Governor Phil Scott over a state budget. They currently face a July 1st deadline to avoid a shutdown.

Campion adds that if the governor continues to veto a spending plan, it may be impossible for lawmakers to attend.

“If that doesn’t happen, then I’ll suspect you’ll see a number of us travel over and I hope members of our local community also can go over and share their personal stories with those in attendance,” said Campion.

Construction remains underway in Bennington on clean municipal water line extensions to residents with contaminated wells. The state of Vermont has not reached an agreement with company Saint-Gobain on a remediation plan for the eastern portion of the affected Bennington area.

Leaders from several states including New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, and recently Massachusetts, are requesting that the EPA set a maximum contaminant level for PFAS compounds and develop guidelines for the pervasive group of chemicals.

In May, former Region 2 EPA Administrator Judith Enck told WAMC she believes that enough information is out there for the EPA to set a maximum contaminant level and label PFAS chemicals as hazardous substances.

“I mean, I’m quite disappointed that the agency is using language like they’re going to ‘initiate steps to evaluate the need for a maximum contaminant level.’ I mean, that’s been happening at EPA for over 10 years so there’s nothing new there,” said Enck.

For more information on the EPA’s upcoming PFAS event in New Hampshire visit: https://www.epa.gov/pfas/pfas-community-engagement-exeter-nh

Lucas Willard is a news reporter and host at WAMC Northeast Public Radio, which he joined in 2011. He produces and hosts The Best of Our Knowledge and WAMC Listening Party.
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