PORTSMOUTH, N.H. (NEWS CENTER) — The city of Portsmouth has released the results of a new filtration system designed to remove contaminants from the community's drinking supply.
The plant was built after high levels of perfluorochemicals (PFCs) were discovered in a well on the former Pease Air Force base.
Officials during a meeting Wednesday night updated the community about the carbon filtration system, which is treating two wells at Pease.
It also tested samples from the "haven well." That well, which supplied nearly half of the city's water, was shut down three years ago after the U.S. Air Force discovered the chemicals in the water supply.
Blood tests show that more than 1,600 adults and children now have elevated levels of PFCs in their blood. Many are concerned about the long-term health effects.
According to the EPA, certain classes of the chemicals have been associated with cancer, thyroid problems and other health issues.
Officials say the new system, which went online in September, has been effective in removing PFCs from the wells. There was also a slight decrease in contaminants in the Haven well.
The hope is that the water in that well will be cleaned up enough to utilize it again as a source of water.
"It would have gone a long way to help relieve the drought conditions," said Peter Rice, director of public works in Portsmouth. "We believe the carbon system will allow to bring this back online in a safe manner and provide this water resource to our customers."
"It's a big concern for the community," said Alayna Davis of Testing for Peace. "To go back to that level of supply would be really concerning because we are still new in the process of treatment and remediation."
The city is working with the Air Force to building a multi-million dollar water treatment plant. Construction is expected to begin in 2018.
The CDC is also expected to conduct a health study in the near future on people and children who drank the contaminated water.