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January 7, 2014

Shaheen visits Atkinson to discuss water woes

EPA will only run lines to some affected homes

ATKINSON — U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., shook her head during a visit to Town Hall yesterday.

“It just doesn’t making any sense,” she said.

Shaheen was in Atkinson yesterday to hear requests for help from town and New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services officials. They want to provide clean drinking water to town residents with contaminated wells.

Shaheen said she was baffled that the federal Environmental Protection Agency would not be providing water to all homes which are contaminated by 1,4 Dioxane.

“Access to safe drinking water is one of the most basic functions of government,” she said. “I hope everyone is working with the best of intentions to ensure people are protected.”

In 2011, 47 homes on Emery Drive, Belknap Drive, Brookside Terrace and Deer Run Road were found to have traces of 1,4 Dioxane in their wells. Dioxane is a chemical which is known to cause cancer.

In May, the EPA announced it would spend $2 million to provide residents with safe drinking water. The EPA will install a new water line which will run past the affected homes on Emery Drive, Belknap Drive and Brookside Terrace.

But last month, the EPA announced the money would only cover 18 homes which have wells containing at least three parts per billion of 1,4 Dioxane. All other homes along the line would have to be connected at the owners’ expense.

Shaheen, along with U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., and Congresswoman Annie Kuster, D-N.H., wrote a letter to the EPA in response to that decision last month. Shaheen said she has not heard back from the EPA.

“I think we need to go back and make some phone calls and make sure we can get an answer to that letter,” she said yesterday. “It’s helpful to firsthand listen to the challenges that people have so that I can relay them to the EPA.”

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