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New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services

Media Center

DATE: March 14, 2011
CONTACT: Jim Martin 603 271-3710

DES Reports Low to No Bacteria Found on WWTP Disks
Public Advised to Avoid Touching Disks Without Protective Gloves

Concord, NH – The New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services has conducted analysis on several of the white disks, which originated at the Hooksett Wastewater Treatement Plant, present in the Merrimack River and coastal areas and beaches of New Hampshire and Massachusetts. Results of testing the disks in New Hampshire and Massachusetts show low risk of bacteria. However, out of an abundance of caution, DES and the NH Division of Public Health Services advise that citizens should treat the disks as though they may contain bacterial contamination.

DES collected samples of the disks from Seabrook Beach on Friday, March 11, and from both Seabrook and Hampton beaches on Sunday, March 13, and tested them in the DES Laboratory for the presence of bacteria. These samples were analyzed for the presence of indicator organisms, e. coli, and enterococci. These are used as indicator organisms because they may indicate the presence of sewage or other sources of bacteria (such as animal feces.) Swimming beaches in New Hampshire are routinely tested for the presence of these organisms during the recreational season, to ensure that beaches are safe for swimming. The first samples taken (on March 11) tested positive for the presence of both indicator organisms, but in relatively low numbers. The most recent New Hampshire samples (taken on March 13) showed no contamination with either organism. This is consistent with expected natural processes, whereby exposure to sunlight and atmospheric conditions works to reduce levels of potential bacterial contamination.

Multiple samples analyzed by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection from Massachusetts beaches have also showed no contamination with either organism.

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NH Department of Environmental Services | 29 Hazen Drive | PO Box 95 | Concord, NH 03302-0095
(603) 271-3503 | TDD Access: Relay NH 1-800-735-2964 | Hours: M-F, 8am-4pm

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