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Shaheen Statement on ATSDR Report on PFAS Impact in Merrimack, Southern NH

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) issued the following statement after the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) released a health consultation report, “Evaluation of Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) in Private Wells Near the Saint-Gobain Site in Southern New Hampshire, Merrimack, New Hampshire,” for public comment until March 1, 2022.

The report comes in response to a request from the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (NH DES) and the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (NH DHHS), to evaluate the potential exposure to PFAS and the resulting risk of harmful health effects for 2,745 private wells in five New Hampshire towns: Merrimack, Litchfield, Londonderry, Bedford and Manchester. Shaheen led the New Hampshire congressional delegation in support of ATSDR’s work on the health consultation.

“Every Granite Stater – and all Americans – should have access to safe, clean drinking water. Full stop. Shamefully, that hasn’t been the case for several New Hampshire communities as we’ve seen over the years, which is why preventing PFAS exposure, remediating polluted sources and uncovering potential adverse health effects have been my top priorities in Congress. This new report reaffirms why these actions are so crucial, underscoring that swift and meaningful solutions to improve our drinking water infrastructure and clean up water supplies have been pivotal to minimizing PFAS exposure and delivering clean water to families,” said Shaheen.

Shaheen continued, “In addition, this report provides important health information and recommendations for New Hampshire families living in the Southern part of the state, and I urge those who may be impacted to take the opportunity to review the findings and submit comments and questions to ATSDR. As a lead negotiator of the water infrastructure provisions of the bipartisan infrastructure bill, I kept communities like Merrimack, Litchfield, Londonderry, Bedford, Manchester, Portsmouth and other similarly affected cities and towns in mind to ensure this once-in-a-generation investment didn’t pass us by without seriously investing in combating PFAS contamination and revitalizing our water infrastructure. I doubled down on these efforts in the fiscal year 2022 defense bill that is now on its way to the President’s desk, which includes another $15 million for the PFAS human health study I established, as well as numerous provisions to respond to this pervasive issue. I’ll use every tool available and pursue every path forward in Congress to advance legislation that makes good on our nation’s commitment to provide clean drinking water to every household.”

Senator Shaheen leads efforts in Congress to uncover the potential health effects related to PFAS contamination, respond to the chemical exposure and remediate polluted sites. As a lead negotiator of the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act that was signed into law, Shaheen secured $10 billion to address PFAS contamination in drinking water. Earlier this month, Shaheen announced New Hampshire will receive more than $72 million in federal funds from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to improve New Hampshire’s drinking water and wastewater systems. This announcement marks the first official round of funding for New Hampshire from the bipartisan infrastructure law. In addition to addressing wastewater and drinking water systems, this funding will be used to remediate PFAS and lead in Granite State water supplies. The bipartisan infrastructure law also includes Shaheen’s legislation to expand EPA’s Assistance for Small and Disadvantaged Communities program to allow states to assist more households, including those who rely on private wells, impacted by contaminants such as PFAS. Shaheen also joined with Senator Padilla to introduce legislation to designate certain PFAS chemicals as Hazardous Air Pollutants (HAPs), thereby requiring their regulation under the Clean Air Act.