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Toxic chemicals can be dumped into Merrimack River, federal and state officials say

The Merrimack is one of the region’s most polluted rivers. The Boston Globe, File

Federal and state environmental officials have renewed a controversial permit allowing a New Hampshire landfill to send as much as 100,000 gallons a day of polluted runoff to a Lowell treatment plant that empties into the Merrimack River, a source of drinking water to more than a half-million people.

Regulators made the decision in September even though the owner of the Turnkey Landfill acknowledged this year that polluted water drained from its facility in Rochester contains exorbitant amounts of highly toxic chemicals known as PFAS, which have been linked to kidney cancer, low infant birth weights, and other diseases.

The company’s tests showed that the amount of PFAS, known as “forever chemicals’’ because they never fully degrade, was more than 100 times higher than federal and state guidelines and more than 400 times higher than stricter standards being considered in Massachusetts. The company submitted the findings this year to New Hampshire’s Department of Environmental Services.

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