North Attleborough seeks $5 million for PFAS6 mitigation

North Attleborough Town Hall
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North Attleborough is seeking $5 million to mitigate chemicals in its drinking water supply.

Last month, the town applied for a federal grant to fund construction of a water filtration site at the McKeon Water Treatment Facility.  The site would have a granular activated carbon (GAC) absorption treatment system to filter six Per and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS6) from the town’s water supply.

The chemicals in PFAS6 are man-made and used in the manufacturing of certain fire-fighting foams, moisture and stain resistant products, and other industrial processes.   Those who drink water containing large amounts of PFAS6 may experience adverse effects to their livers, cholesterol, thyroid, immune system, and may increase the risk of some cancers.

Town Council President Justin Paré said the new site would keep residents safe when drinking water.

“We are really pushing on that one and are grateful for any support we can receive,” Paré said. “We believe that water related projects are a priority at the federal and state level, which is why we are pursuing these sorts of grants at this level.”

The request was sent to the House Appropriations Committee and awaits review from the Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies.

During the 2023 budget meeting, Town Manager Michael Borg said he hoped the grant would be awarded and encouraged Congressman Jake Auchincloss (D-MA04) to move quickly on securing the federal funding.

“Congressman Auchincloss, if you are listening, please move our PFAS earmark request forward to the next level,” Borg said. “Please support North Attleborough and bring in $5 million for an earmark.”

As of October 2020, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection set the standard levels for PFAS6 in drinking water at 20 nanograms per liter.  Monthly sampling at the McKeon Water Treatment Facility showed it had an average PFAS6 sample of 22.8 nanograms from January to March. Comparatively, the Hillman Well and the Whiting Treatment Facility had averages of 10.4 and 16.7 nanograms of PFAS6, respectively.

In the past two years, the town has taken steps to ensure its residents have clean drinking water, such as constructing a kiosk with PFAS6 free water for members of sensitive subgroups (women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, children under 1 year old or persons with compromised immune systems).