3M suit aims to block tougher PFAS standards for water in NH
By Jeff McMenemy | GateHouse Media | October 1, 2019
Read the full article by Jeff McMenemy (GateHouse Media)
“CONCORD — Chemical company 3M – along with the Plymouth Water & Sewer District, a Center Harbor farmer and a second company – filed a lawsuit against the state Department of Environmental Services seeking to block the implementation of new standards for a series of PFAS chemicals.
The lawsuit, which was filed by McLane Middleton of Concord, asks the court ‘to declare invalid and to enjoin enforcement of recently adopted rules pertaining to permitted levels of PFOA, PFOS, PFNA, and PFHxS.’
3M and the other plaintiffs are seeking a declaration that DES’ adoptions of the new PFAS standards ‘violate the state’s constitutional and statutory prohibitions against legislative and agency impositions of unfunded mandates on political subdivisions under the New Hampshire Constitution,’ according to the lawsuit, which was filed Monday in Merrimack County Superior Court.
They sought a temporary, preliminary and permanent injunction that would bar the state Department of Environmental Services from implementing the new water quality standards for PFAS chemicals.
Superior Court Judge Richard McNamara held a hearing Tuesday afternoon to address the requests filed by 3M and the other plaintiffs, according to K. Allen Brooks, the state’s senior assistant attorney general and chief of the Environmental Protection Bureau for the N.H. Department of Justice.
McNamara denied the plaintiff’s request for a temporary restraining order, Brooks said, and scheduled a hearing for Oct. 18 to give the state more time to file a substantive reply to the injunction requests, Brooks said…
Brooks said the state was ‘confused about the timing’ of the lawsuit since DES first proposed the new standards in late June.
He also agreed with the judge that more time was needed for the state to ‘take a close look at this and respond in a meaningful way,’ Brooks said.
DES filed a final rulemaking proposal in June to establish maximum contaminant levels (MCLs)/drinking water standards and ambient groundwater quality standards (AGQS) for four per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS): perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS), perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA) and perfluorohexanesulfonic acid (PFHxS).
DES said it used ‘the most recent and best science available’ to set drinking water standards that are ‘protective for the most sensitive populations over a lifetime of exposure.’
The standards it proposed are 12 parts per trillion (ppt) for PFOA, 15 ppt for PFOS, 18 ppt for PFHxs and 11 ppt for PFNA. DES stated it established the levels to ‘ensure greater protection of public health related to the consumption of drinking water.’
DES said MCLs are drinking water quality standards that public water systems must comply with and an AGQS is the standard used to require remedial action and the provision of alternative drinking water at a contaminated site.
PFAS are man-made chemicals used in products worldwide since the 1950s, including firefighting foam, non-stick cookware and water-repellent fabrics. They also have a range of applications in the aerospace, aviation, automotive and electronics industries, among others.
The Center For Disease Control’s Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) states PFAS exposure can increase cancer risks, lower birth weights, harm liver, thyroid and pancreas functions and increase cholesterol levels…
‘The magnitude of costs plaintiffs and other public and private entities will incur were not addressed in the commissioner’s comments,’ the lawsuit also states.
‘NHDES failed to evaluate whether the significantly lower limits for MCLs and AGQS in the PFOA, PFOS, PFNA, and PFHxS Rules achieved equivalent or more benefits than the costs required,’ the lawsuit states.
3M, along with the Plymouth Water & Sewer District, were joined in the lawsuit by Charles Hanson, a Center Harbor farmer, and Resource Management Inc., a New Hampshire corporation out of Holderness that ‘provides, among other services, biosolids management for governments and private businesses,’ according to the lawsuit.
Hanson is an employee and principal of Resource Management Inc.
Former state Rep. Mindi Messmer called it ‘disturbing’ that 3M, which created many PFAS chemicals, is involved in the lawsuit.
‘We know their history. They just had to pay out $850 million in a settlement to the state of Minnesota,’ she said Tuesday.
Messmer, a scientist, is surprised the ‘Plymouth Water & Sewer District is aligning themselves with manufactures and polluters to bring this lawsuit.’
‘I’m sure Plymouth residents want to know who’s paying for this lawsuit,’ she said.
She called the lawsuit ‘baseless’ and doesn’t believe it will impact the new more protective standards…”
This content provided by the PFAS Project.