Hyannis Meetings to Focus on Water Contaminants

BARNSTABLE – Hyannis has been impacted by highly fluorinated chemicals in drinking and ground water and two public meetings will be held next month to gather input for an effort to lower acceptable levels.

The PFAS chemicals, which are found in firefighting foam, nonstick coatings, water-repellent clothing and many other household and personal items have been linked to health threats ranging from cancer to decreased fertility.

The issue of the contaminants in local groundwater has been a concern in recent years and have contaminated groundwater at the Barnstable County Fire and Rescue Training Academy and Barnstable Municipal Airport.

The first meeting is the result of a citizen’s petition led by Sue Phelan, the director of GreenCape, a nonprofit environmental advocacy group.

GreenCape, the Cape Alliance for Pesticide Education, works to increase public awareness of the risks of pesticides and other chemicals to health and the vulnerability of the Cape Cod water supply.

The public involvement plan meeting is offered by the state’s Department of Environmental Protection. It is for communities that want to learn more about their water quality and how they may have been impacted by contaminants.

“We’d like to have it all just come out into the open and have a public discussion about the source of the PFAS and perhaps the consequences for the community,” Phelan said.

The meeting is May 2 at Barnstable Town Hall from 5 to 6:30 p.m.

“We didn’t feel we were getting enough of that information down here,” Phelan said.

Another meeting on proposed revisions for cleanup site rules will be held May 28 at Town Hall from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m.

MassDEP recently proposed rules revisions along with proposed new drinking water standards that further lowers the acceptable level of PFASs in drinking water.

Phelan said the Hyannis Water District is taking more of an effort to keep local drinking water clean after wells tested above acceptable levels in 2015.

“They have done a lot of work. The state is doing a lot of work and I believe imminently there will be a standard for this kind of contamination,” Phelan said. “And most immediately the acceptable level will be lowered very soon.”

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