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2000-04-01
Merrimack, NH. Home Depot Blasting Halted

It's been one darn thing after another in Home Depot's mission to build a store in Merrimack, NH. In March of 1999, the Merrimack Planning Board OK'd plans for a 134,000 s.f. Home Depot -- but they attached 22 conditions to the approval. One condition, that the store has impervious concrete floors and a 6 inch berm around the perimeter to contain any hazardous materials spill -- has delayed final approval for a building permit. We reported in a 2/27/00 newsflash (scroll down) that Home Depot counter-offered to create a "large sloping bathtub" inside the store that would hold 270,000 gallons of spilled materials. The Planning Board in Merrimack was mulling that one over when the next shoe dropped. Home Depot was allowed to begin blasting away ledge found on the property just off Route 101A. But a couple of weeks after blasting started, at least two residents on Warren Lane noticed a strange odor in their well water. An analysis of the affected wells found dangerously high levels of nitrites, nitrates, and benzene. Nitrites can cause death to children, and excess levels of benzene can cause vomiting, convulsions and death. The Home Depot site sits in a wellhead protection area for well #6. Home Depot agreed to stop blasting until the cause of the chemical pollution can be found. Most recently, Home Depot said publicly that the wells in question were contaminated before the company began blasting. But residetns disagree. "There is no question that there is a relationship here between the blasting and the contamination of my well. This is a condtion that absolutely did not exist previously," said neighbor Brian Rockwell. Rockwell told the local newspapers that his well water has been clean and odor free for the past two years.

What you can do: Something smells in Merrimack, but Home Depot says its not them. Now the taxpayers are having to pay for the cost of more wells to be tested. The contamination in these wells is potentially lethal. The well pollution seriously damages the value of the neighbors' property, and these water problems could lead to litigation and further delays for an already ill-starred project. In this community of 23,000 people, there are plenty of residents who will be heartened by Home Depot's woes, and relieved by any delays in the project.










 
 
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