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NH Delegation Calls for Community Update on Water Contamination

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), along with Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH), sent a letter to the United States Air Force this week, requesting a community update on efforts to treat water supplies contaminated with perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs) at Pease International Tradeport, the former Pease Air Force Base. The letter also asks for specific responses to concerns raised by Members of the New Hampshire State Legislature. Thousands of New Hampshire families were exposed to the contaminated water supply at Haven well.

“Seacoast families deserve answers. We need a forum in place that gets residents the information they need,” said Senator Shaheen. She continued, “We’re talking about thousands of families, including children, who’ve been exposed to chemicals tied to different kinds of cancer and birth defects. Until we know how this happened, what the effects may be and how to prevent this from happening again, I’ll continue to ask questions and work to ensure every family has access to clean drinking water.”

“Families exposed to emerging contaminants in their water understandably have many concerns about potential health impacts and deserve transparency on this issue,” said Senator Maggie Hassan. “The Air Force is responsible for this contamination at Pease and I will continue pushing them – and other federal partners – to clean up this site, and to support and conduct the research necessary to answer the questions of our citizens, and citizens across the country.”

“Seacoast families deserve clear answers from the Air Force about the groundwater contamination around Pease Air National Guard Base that has been tied to different kinds of cancers and health conditions. Residents deserve to know how this contamination occurred and how it will impact our communities’ health, private wells, food supply, and the waters around Pease,” said Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter. She added, “The Air Force should address these concerns directly with Seacoast communities. I will continue my work on the House Armed Services Committee to ensure that the Air Force works closely with our communities to provide answers and remediate the contamination.”

Senator Shaheen has prioritized efforts to help respond to the water contamination and support New Hampshire families, while also sponsoring bipartisan legislation to proactively empower the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to better respond to potential water contamination crises from emerging contaminants like PFCs. Additionally, Senator Shaheen successfully included a critical measure in the National Defense Authorization Act, the annual bill that sets defense policies for the fiscal year, to conduct a study to understand the health impacts and effects of exposure to PFC contamination. Earlier this month, both senators and the congresswoman announced that the Air Force will pay the City of Portsmouth $1.3 million for the next steps in the clean-up effort. In July, Congresswoman Shea-Porter’s amendments directing the Department of Defense to fund a CDC health impact study of exposure to PFCs in groundwater around military installations, as well as an amendment she cosponsored to fund ongoing mitigation efforts, passed the House with unanimous support as part of its annual Defense Appropriations bill.

The letter to the US Air Force can be read in full here.