HANOVER, N.H. — Neighbors of Dartmouth College property where for years the Ivy League school disposed of mice and other small animals used in science experiments say they fear that pollution from the site has contaminated their groundwater.
The site has contaminated the well water of at least one family, Richard and Debbie Higgins, who blame a variety of health problems on it, including rashes, hair and skin loss, and dizziness. Even their dogs were not spared, they say, with one urinating blood and another vomiting.
Few nearby residents even knew the half-acre plot on the college’s Rennie Farm was used from the 1960s until 1978 to dump carcasses from “tracer experiments,” in which scientists used radioactive compounds to see how things moved through life systems.
In 2011, Dartmouth began to clean up the site, removing 40 tons of carcasses and soil from scores of unlined pits. That led to the discovery of hazardous waste and low-level radioactive materials and eventually evidence that at least one chemical used in the animal experiments, the suspected carcinogen 1,4-dioxane, had leaked into the groundwater.
Dartmouth apologized in September for its handling of the case, established a neighborhood advisory panel and offered 20 households bottled water.