Read the full article by Jeff McMenemy
“PORTSMOUTH — City resident Andrea Amico had zero activist experience when she learned in May 2014 that two of her kids and husband had been exposed to dangerous PFAS chemicals in contaminated city water.
After attending a meeting later that month at the former Pease Air Force Base where the contamination was found, Amico walked out feeling officials ‘minimized the community’s concerns and downplayed the health risks.’ That’s when she decided to get involved, she said in an interview this week.
Four years have passed and the married mother of three is now one of the most recognized activists in the state, if not the region.
She co-founded the Testing for Pease community group in 2015, serves on a national coalition of PFAS groups and has been tapped to serve on several boards that deal with the Pease contamination. She has established strong relationships with the state’s congressional delegation, which in no small part has led to several PFAS related bills being passed in Washington, D.C.
Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., invited Amico to testify in Washington last week at a Senate hearing of the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Subcommittee to share her experiences with PFAS contamination.
Amico recalled coming out of that May 2014 meeting.
‘At that point I never envisioned I would be where I am today, but I decided I was going to advocate strongly for my family and for the Pease community,’ she said.
She acknowledges she has been surprised by all that she and Testing for Pease have accomplished working with the state’s congressional delegation…
Asked how she juggles all her responsibilities, Amico said, ‘I don’t sleep a lot. I tend to do a lot of my work on the PFAS at night, that way I can work during the day and spend time with my family in the evenings.’
Amico estimated she works 20 to 30 hours a week on PFAS issues. ‘People who work with me know it’s not uncommon to get an email from me at 1 or 2 in the morning,’ she said…
Amico learned this week that she will receive an award from the EPA for her activism and community service. EPA Region 1 Administrator Alexandra Dunn notified Amico that she was selected as a 2018 National Notable Achievement Award winner.
The 2018 NNAAs recognize exemplary accomplishments achieved by regional, state, local and tribal personnel in waste management and emergency response programs between Oct. 1, 2016, and Sept. 30, 2017.
Dunn, who earlier this year invited Amico to meet with her and former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, told Amico she wanted to congratulate her directly.
‘Efforts such as yours are a major reason Region 1 is known for such tremendously high quality level of work. Thank you, for all you do,’ Dunn said.
Amico credits her advocacy success to her Testing for Pease partners and how they’ve decided to work on behalf of the community.
‘We worked hard to find the right balance of being assertive and pushing appropriate issues, but remaining respectful and collaborative,’ Amico said. ‘That’s a very fine line.’
She’s proud of the work the group has done and grateful for the help of her co-founders Michelle Dalton of Durham and Alayna Davis of Durham.
‘I think forming the group helped us make a name for ourselves and I think it’s a name that people respect, both community and the government,’ Amico said.”