RCL Notes on Cancer & Coakly Task force

Fact Sheet from Rep. Mindi Messiner:  final COAKLEY LANDFILL FACT SHEET DW

RCL Notes

Governor’s Task Force Pediatric Cancer Cluster Coakley Landfill Subcommittee

Video Recording of October 13  meeting here

Video Recording of October 20 meeting here

Video Recording of Oct 26 meeting here

NHDES and EPA Presentation 10/20 meeting here

US Geological Survey Presentation 10/20 meeting here

Full USGS 2009 Study of Seacoast Ground Water Resources here

Draft Subcommittee Recommendations to Task Force here

Google Drive of documents related to sub committee’s work here


Members of the Subcommittee: Rep. David Borden, Sen. Nancy Stiles, Mindi Messmer. Mike Wimsatt NHDES

Subcommittee contact email for comments, input:  mmessmer@me.com


Summary of Meetings

  1. Additional monitoring wells will be drilled generally north between Coakley Landfill and Breakfast Hill and south of Coakley as evidence indicates a plume of chemicals of emerging concern, primarily 1, 4 Dioxane,  and the PFC ,PFOA and PFOS . The plume is likely expanding slightly based on 2013 vs. 2015 testing.
  2. The EPA has strongly recommended that a new development planned next to Bethany Church not be supplied by individual wells but by public water so as to not accelerate the plume from Coakley in that direction.
  3. Concluding that monitoring should be expanded in the direction where higher levels of PFC are being detected, and beyond the current GMZ (Ground Water Management Zone), NHDES mailed postcards to all properties within approximately a ¼ mile, east, so the western part of Rye, and south of the current GMZ seeking data on private ground water wells. Approximately 20 responses were received saying these wells were used for drinking. These wells will be tested for VOC, 1,4-dioxane, and PFC’s. A follow up by referencing to water bills is being done to determine if any were missed.
  4. Committee members urged EPA and DES to consider testing of sediments in Berry Brook and North River (N Hampton) given extensive wetlands feeding them which are directly adjacent to Coakley and given landfill operated un capped for over a decade
  5. A US Geological Survey presentation to the sub-committee by the locally resident scientist, Thomas Mack who led an extensive study and modeling of the Seacoast’s water resources, published 2009.

Key Points from USGS presentation here:

  1. The bedrock in our area is highly fractured and wells and as a result are among the most, if not the most productive, bedrock wells in NH in terms of well flow.
  2. Many if not most streams in the area align with bedrock fractures.
  3. Breakfast Hill is at the high point for the model’s simulated bedrock aquifer ground water flow in all directions for all of Rye, much of Greenland, Portsmouth, and  North Hampton
  4. A major fracture between 2 types of bedrock runs generally north to south over Breakfast Hill and it believed to align with Berry Brook through Rye.
  5. There is also a geologic contact between two rock types to the east of Coakley Landfill, on eastern side of Lafayette Road, oriented northeast- southwest.  The contact is highly permeable and permits water flow along the planar feature.


  1. A secondary fracture runs west to east and is believed to generally align with Bailey Brook running through the Rye well area off Garland and the Aquarion well on Central Road.
  2. The last well drilled for the Rye Water District had highly fractured rock observed via cameras by the Dr. Mack. When compressed air was used to evacuate water, bubbling was observed in Bailey Brook indicating a connection between bedrock and stream.
  3. In the original study the “age” of water at a well on Winnicut Road, from landing on the ground to pumped out of wells, was generally determined to be approximately 50 years although pumping  and other factors can affect aging. It is also not known whether the pumping well had reached equilibrium with the bedrock groundwater and if this date is indicative of current steady state conditions.  Differing and lower timeframes for travel through the bedrock flow system could be shorter.


Draft Sub Committee Recommendations to Task Force presented draft at 10/26 meeting -to be discussed, commented on, edited and voted on at next meeting see here.

Highlights below

  1. Drinking water protection
    1. Sample drinking wells within 1 mile radius
    2. Test Rye wells more frequently including for additional emerging chemicals.
    3. Consider proactive extensions of public water
  2. Slow, monitor, assess migration of plume
    1. Install monitor wells between Coakley and Rye Wells
    2. Closely monitor Breakfast Hill Golf withdrawals and analyze water. Clubhouse has a bedrock well with large withdrawals and is in line with direction of plume’s evolution
    3. Limit water withdrawals if need be and no new withdrawals within 1 mile to slow plume
    4. Re examine remediation
    5. Adapt USGS Seacoast water resources computer model for more local use around Coakley
  3. Further assess problem
    1. Study historical records, for Coakley, Rye Landfill at Lafayette and Rye Landfill off Grove, near Garland well
    2. Sample both Rye Landfills monitor wells for 1,4-dioxane, PFC
    3. Sample sediments along entire length of Berry Brook and Little River. Coakley before it was capped and maybe after has had run off into wetlands feeding these streams as they are directly adjacent to the landfill.
  4. Public Health Assessment
    1. Forward Cancer Cluster Monitoring
  5. Future Committee/Regulatory Coordination
    1. Implement Ongoing Coakley Oversight Commission

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