December 13, 2016

On November 22, 2016, the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (NHDES) issued a formal request that per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) testing be included at contaminated sites where groundwater sampling programs will be conducted in 2017. The objective is to better understand the nature and extent of PFAS contamination and identify sites where PFOA and PFOS concentrations exceed the NHDES Ambient Groundwater Quality Standard (AGQS) of 70 parts per trillion. This is a similar situation to what occurred in 2005 when NHDES established an AGQS for the volatile organic compound 1,4-dioxane and began requesting that it be added to on-going groundwater monitoring programs shortly thereafter.

PFAS, also commonly referred to as Perfluorinated Chemicals (“PFCs”), have been a hot topic in the State of New Hampshire for the past several years. Following the detection of Perfluorooctane Sulfonate (PFOS) in a public water supply at the former Pease Air Force Base in Portsmouth in 2014, detections of PFOS and Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA) were detected in groundwater in the vicinity of the Saint-Gobain facility in Merrimack in early 2016. The presence of PFOS and PFOA in the Merrimack-Litchfield area prompted the NHDES to expand their investigation to additional properties statewide, including industrial facilities where PFAS may have been used during manufacturing processes and at landfills where wastes containing PFAS may have been disposed.

If you’re a property owner who’s asking the question “what does this mean to me?” then you’re not alone. Will you be required to add PFAS analyses to all groundwater monitoring rounds going forward?  Can you say ‘no’ to having your wells tested? What’s involved and how much does it cost?  What if it’s sampled for one time and not detected - will you have to continue testing for it in future rounds?  What if it’s present in groundwater at your site, but you don’t believe you’re the source of the contaminant? How much does it cost to clean up? These are all excellent questions that should be addressed on a case-by-case basis.

Nobis Engineering has been at the forefront of the PFAS issue in New Hampshire and has conducted PFAS testing at multiple sites here in the state. Our teams understand the specific requirements associated with groundwater sample collection and laboratory analysis protocols. Have questions? Need assistance? Contact Jim Ricker in our Concord office: (603) 724-6231, jricker@nobiseng.com.

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