Shaheen, Ayotte Call for Air Force to Immediately Comply with EPA Order on Haven Well Contamination
(WASHINGTON, D.C.) - U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) today called on the U.S. Air Force to immediately comply with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrative order that requires the cleanup of perflourochemicals (PFCs) that contaminate the Haven Well in Portsmouth. Last week, the Senators applauded the directive from the EPA that requires the U.S. Air Force to begin restoration of the Haven Well and to prevent the further spread of contamination. The letter reads in part:
“We remain concerned that your failure to move quickly to treat the Haven Well in compliance with this Order continues to pose a public health risk to the community… We appreciate your willingness to work with the State and with the City to date on this matter but more must be done to protect the community from the harmful effects of PFCs in the drinking water. Therefore, we urge you to immediately and fully comply with the EPA’s Order to treat the Haven Well and restore the aquifer at Pease.”
Earlier this month, the Senators also sent a letter to the Air Force renewing their call for affirmative steps to identify and notify service members and civilians who may have been exposed to chemicals while stationed at Pease. That letter reads in part:
"We believe that the Air Force has a responsibility to take care of those who serve our country and that surely includes informing them when they may have been exposed to dangerous chemicals. We urge the Air Force to identify and notify these individuals by year's end."
Last month, Shaheen and Ayotte included language in the Fiscal Year 2016 National Defense Authorization Act Report that presses the Air Force to identify and notify those who may have been exposed to PFCs found in the Haven Well. The provision requires the Air Force to report to Congress on its progress by September 30. If the notification is not complete by then, the language directs the Air Force to provide a plan to complete notification by the end of the year.
Text of the letter sent today by Senator’s Shaheen and Ayotte can be read below. The letter with signatures is available here.
July 24, 2015
The Honorable Deborah L. James
Secretary of the Air Force
1670 Air Force Pentagon
Washington, DC 20330-1670
Dear Secretary James:
We write to urge you to fully and promptly comply with the Administrative Order issued by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to the U.S. Air Force (USAF) dated July 8, 2015 regarding the contamination of water supply wells, including the Haven Well, located on and near the former Pease Air Force Base, in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. As you are aware, the presence of perfluorochemicals (PFCs) in the Haven Well is likely due to the Air Force’s use of fire-fighting foam at Pease.
We remain concerned that your failure to move quickly and comply with this Order continues to pose a public health risk to the community. As you are aware, the State of New Hampshire detected PFCs in the Haven Well at levels 12.5 times higher than the EPA’s Provisional Health Advisory on April 16, 2014. The Haven Well has since been shut down but several other wells in close proximity continue to supply drinking water to the Pease community. These two additional wells could be at risk of increased contamination because they are situated at a lower gradient than the Haven Well and the contaminants have a high likelihood of continuing to migrate down-gradient through the bedrock. As you know, studies have indicated that the continued exposure to low levels of PFCs in drinking water may cause adverse health effects.
We appreciate your willingness to work with the State and with the City to date on this matter but more must be done to protect the community from the harmful effects of PFCs in the drinking water. Therefore, we urge you to immediately and fully comply with the EPA’s Order to treat the Haven Well and restore the aquifer at Pease.
Thank you for your attention to this important matter.
Jeanne Shaheen Kelly A. Ayotte
U.S. Senator U.S. Senator