By Taylor Mathieu
I am student at Keene State College in New Hampshire studying Occupational Health and Safety Science with an Environmental Science minor. I admire the environmental department at my school for its constant stake in on going problems. The class Environmental Governance that I am currently taking has brought light to current issues with drinking water pollution across the of New Hampshire, specifically the southern half. The House Bill 1610 wants to protect citizens home buyers and homeowners within one mile of hazardous sites. For example, solid waste facilities, old spill sites, salvage yards, environmental monitoring sites, hazardous waste generators, underground fuel storage and more. I truly believe that a lack of shared information is killer and should be part of the past. The sad part is that so many do not even know what types of contamination they are living on. I am definitely a stakeholder as an New Hampshire citizen and this is a bill that every should agree on. Cancer accounts for 25% of deaths in New Hampshire and I believe bills like 1610 could have a positive impact on that number.
The bill 1610 was sparked by illness reports coming from Swanzey, New Hampshire, a possible site with a clustering of disease. Most commonly cancer. The bill was also inspired by many other towns across the state with poor water issues, like Litchfield New Hampshire. When personally researching the the water problem I found that the citizen and illness representation was a major part of the problem. People living in problem areas can be poorly informed. If there is a water contamination issues the state may not consider it one because of insufficient census information, poor water sampling data, proper address and post office box information. When you cannot tell where health problems are coming from, getting the proper scope on the situation is much harder. That did not stop weary citizens from catching on to the hazards around them. This house bill was made by citizens to protect citizens.
Once my mind had stopped thinking about Swanzey New Hampshire, I started thinking about my home town in Northern New Hampshire. Just a half mile into the woods behind my home is an old quarry. What oils may have been dumped there. A half mile across the street is a massive quarry that has been operating for 150 years. Has there been contamination there? The neighborhood is on a private well. Are all the dangerous chemicals found at sites like the ones around my home part of our annual water test? I could not say for sure myself. Every state should have the right to know and New Hampshire should not be last in the race. I hope the best for this legislation and would one day like to see it taken to the next level. The more you know the moe you can protect yourself.
NH Science for Citizens
Keene, NH 03431
A project of students and scientists in collaboration with local citizens and NH state representatives.