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Saint-Gobain Must Meet New Hampshire Deadline for PFAS Controls

Sept. 11, 2020, 3:20 PM

New Hampshire won’t give Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics Corp. an additional year to install controls for its PFAS air emissions in Merrimack, the state announced Friday.

The company had requested more time partly because of the coronavirus pandemic. Saint-Gobain will be required to complete its construction of air emission controls at its Merrimack facility by February, barring further delays.

Through the emission controls, the state intends to reduce the economic impact of pollution from per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, in the Merrimack area. The efforts have included upgrading water filters, ensuring affected public water wells meet state groundwater standards, shutting down non-compliant wells, as well as individual homeowners’ decisions to purchase bottled water or install filtration systems.

The chemicals may cause adverse health effects, including developmental harm to fetuses, testicular and kidney cancer, liver tissue damage, immune system or thyroid effects, and changes in cholesterol, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Saint-Gobain is reviewing the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services’ decision not to grant the one-year extension.

“We are committed to installing the best available control technology and we will continue our dialogue with NHDES,” Lia LoBello, a spokeswoman for the company, said in a statement.

Films and Fabrics

Saint-Gobain manufactures films and fabrics coated with polytetrafluoroethylene, a chemical in the PFAS family. PFAS chemicals have been used in nonstick and stain-resistant coatings in clothing, fast-food wrappers, carpets, and other consumer and industrial products. They have also made their way into drinking water, and the environment, nationwide.

The state determined the company’s Merrimack facility has contributed to PFAS pollution in air, which has migrated into groundwater.

The company’s controls would consist of a thermal oxidizer, which would incinerate PFAS chemicals before they reach the air outside the facility.

Though Saint-Gobain has been able to reduce its emissions of some older types of PFAS, including PFOA, New Hampshire found the company has switched to newer-generation chemicals in its raw materials, resulting in different PFAS being released from the Merrimack facility’s stacks.

Facing Challenges

The coronavirus and the town of Merrimack’s denial of Saint-Gobain’s construction permit put the company in an “extremely difficult position,” the company wrote in its June 4 petition.

Saint-Gobain asked for an extension of the deadline to complete construction and installation of air emissions controls from Feb. 11, 2021, to Feb 11, 2022—or if Merrimack reverses its appeal of the company’s permit, a year from that date.

The town plans to hold a hearing on the appeal in December.

The Covid-19 pandemic also affected the company’s supply chain and contractors’ abilities to meet scheduled deadlines, the company said in its petition.

“Under ideal circumstances, a 12-month deadline is a tight one for completing a project of this magnitude,” Saint-Gobain wrote. The project is expected to cost about $4.6 million.

Gov. Chris Sununu (R) recently signed a bill into law that set limits for four PFAS in drinking water and helps towns pay for PFAS cleanup.

To see the latest updates on state-level PFAS regulations and legislation, check out Bloomberg Law’s PFAS State Activity Tracker here.

To contact the reporter on this story: Sylvia Carignan in Washington at scarignan@bloombergindustry.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Anna Yukhananov at ayukhananov@bloombergindustry.com; Chuck McCutcheon at cmccutcheon@bloombergindustry.com

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