Comerford affirms support to ban forever chemicals in Warwick


Staff Writer

Published: 03-16-2023 6:10 PM

WARWICK — State Sen. Jo Comerford, attending Monday’s Selectboard meeting remotely, shared members’ concerns about the detection of forever chemicals in a test well on a property the town seized due to failure to pay property taxes.

The Northampton Democrat spoke with the three Selectboard members and Town Coordinator David Young, offering to do her best to help Warwick mitigate the issue. PFAS6, a set of six per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, were detected in one of three or four test wells that contractors installed at 355 Wendell Road a few years ago to test for petroleum.

“It’s everywhere,” Comerford said in an interview. “PFAS is an enormous threat to ... potable water, to drinkable water and to our food system.”

She said she has been Senate chair for the Joint Committee on Public Health for the past four years and has advocated for PFAS-related legislation.

“I am in support of banning it in the commonwealth to all extents possible,” she said, noting that she also supports grant funding for testing and mitigation.

Selectboard Chair Brian Snell explained the town took the 355 Wendell Road property due to unpaid taxes. He said a lot of tires and junk were left on the property and a grant allowed for drilling of test wells. Young said the property, colloquially known in town as the McKnight property, is on Moore’s Pond, near the town beach.

“It’s probably the most desired lot on Moore’s Pond, environmental issues aside,” he said.

At Monday’s meeting, Snell and Comerford spoke about a recently published paper that reported that toilet paper, including major brands sold around the world, is a significant source of PFAS, which the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has linked to health woes that include decreased fertility, hypertension in pregnant people and increased risk of certain cancers.

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Comerford tuned in remotely from the University of Massachusetts Amherst campus, where she had earlier chaired a Joint Ways and Means Committee hearing to discuss Gov. Maura Healey’s proposed educational budget for fiscal year 2024.

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