Saint-Gobain vs. Merrimack: 90% PFOA Pollution Reduction Not Enough

PFOA pollution

The Merrimack Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics’ most recent air emissions permit proposal detailed a 90 percent reduction in PFOA pollution. The local residents of that community, however, aren’t happy with the proposal, saying it isn’t good enough.

The New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services has mandated that Saint-Gobain tests and plans a permit for air emission control. The plant has done that, but residents believe it’s not committing to enough destruction of the PFOAs.

“Our community has endured a lot of harm. We are ground zero for PFAS,” said Laurene Allen of Merrimack Citizens for Clean Water.

PFOA stands for perfluorooctanoic acid and is part of a group of pollutants called PFAS, or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances. These substances are extremely toxic and have been linked to the following side effects:

Three years ago, two faucets at Saint-Gobain had been found to have PFOA pollution contamination. This resulted in hundreds of homes needing bottled water and new public water extensions created. The surrounding neighborhoods of Merrimack, Litchfield and Bedford were all affected in some way.

While the 90 percent destruction rate is a step in the right direction, the community believes it is too much “of a leap of trust,” according to Allen. Barbara Healey, a town councilor, has said that the destruction efficiency they desire is closer to 95 to 99 percent.

Saint-Gobain has outlined that it’d be installing a three-can regenerative thermal oxidizer. While thermal oxidizers are commonly used to destroy these types of pollutants, sometimes you need another system working in tandem to increase the destruction rate. If the town is able to convince the plant, that may be exactly what happens. The results of this public hearing remain to be seen, but it’s clear that residents don’t want to worry about ingesting or coming into contact with these PFOAs again.


***This information was originally reported by Kimberly Houghton of UnionLeader.com.***

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