July 19, 2018TUFTONBORO — A report of discolored water seeping from the base of the closed landfill in Tuftonboro and into a bordering freshwater wetland late last fall drew the attention of Conservation Commission members Larry Gill and Steve Wingate. They returned to the Board of Selectmen on July 9 to report on their findings and concerns.
Gill presented background on the landfill, reportedly in use since the 1970's and into the late 1990's and capped in 2003, at which time the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (NHDES) issued the first Groundwater Management Permit.
Management has required periodic sampling of a series of wells to monitor groundwater and surface water for potential impacts associated with the landfill, and Stantec Consulting Services has served as the town's agent since at least 2010, said Gill. Of concern to him, is a report from the NHDES Waste Management Division dated July 17, 2012 that noted an increasing trend in arsenic concentrations.
According to Gill, additional sampling collected from deep wells, groundwater and surface water samples conducted over the years at the request of DES, have detected the presence of 1,4 dioxane, a known animal carcinogen, and more recently, the presence of polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFOS) (contained in many common household products). David Allwine, of Stantec, noted that the range of polluntants in the samples are consistent with closed unlined landfills across the state.
At this point, Gill stated that he would like to know if "the inorganic polluntants, particularly the Arsenic mobilize and migrate further into the wetland, what effect is there on wildlife and finally what about the groundwater plume...?" He expressed frustration at a lack of responses to his inquiries of NHDES and several research institutions and concern that the chemicals could affect drinking water from wells down gradient.
Allwine said he wasn't sure that there any houses within a 1,000 foot zone that would be affected, and said based on his experience, most people in the area have deep drilled wells, not shallow wells.
Speaking to Gill and Wingate's concern that chemicals might travel and eventually accumulate in the aquifer under the Great Meadows area, which the town purchased for conservation several years ago in recognition of the quality of the water source, Allwine commented that the neighboring swamp is a discharge area.
In exploration of means to get some answers, Wingate produced a map of US Geologic Service well testing sites that have not been tested for around 20 years. Allwine said he thought he might be able to find grant funding to assist with costs associated with extensive testing, but the group, interested in acquiring more information sooner rather than later, and within the budget, agreed with Allwine's suggestion to consult with a hydrogeologist to get answers on how and where the water close to the landfill site is flowing.
He said he would bring a proposal to the next meeting, which is scheduled for Monday, July 23, at 9 a.m.