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Environmental Health & Safety

37 Dewey Field Road
Suite 6216
Hanover, NH 03755-3529
Phone: (603) 646-1762
Fax: (603) 646-2622

Rennie Farm

About Rennie Farm:

From the mid-1960s to 1978, under State and Federal licenses, Dartmouth disposed of animal remains used in medical research on an approximate half acre portion of the 223-acre Rennie Farm. In addition, the remains of human cadavers donated for medical school classes were buried in a small protected cemetery near the animal burial area.

Dartmouth is committed to remediate the contaminated area and complete the cleanup as effectively and expeditiously as possible.

Groundwater and other conditions on the property have been monitored for years. More specifically, in 2011, the state of New Hampshire approved excavation and remediation of the animal burial site. While performing this work, in November 2011, hazardous chemical waste was discovered. We notified the state, and the waste was removed under the terms of an approved plan.

We continued to monitor the site, and in April 2012 we found that for the first time a chemical compound called 1,4-dioxane was detected in groundwater samples near the location of the 2011 excavation. This compound is a synthetic substance used primarily as an additive in solvents and is "reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen", by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control.

As a result of our extensive investigation, we now have an understanding of the complex site geology and the contaminant's path of travel. Based on the data that we have collected—and with the state's approval of our work plans—we are focused on contaminant remediation and on controlling any further movement of groundwater contamination from the site. In January 2017 we installed a pump-and-treat system to remove 1,4-dioxane from the groundwater at the site. During 2020 we expanded the system to accelerate the remediation of groundwater. We continue to treat the groundwater and test the water quality in the area pursuant a Ground Water Management Permit (below) that was approved by DES in August 2017.  Treated groundwater is returned to the natural hydrologic system under a permit issued by the United States Environmental Protection Agency, which included extensive monthly sampling of the quality of the treated water.

After testing many sites on the farm property and also over 120 nearby private water wells used by those living near the farm, we found 1,4-dioxane that exceeded the state's ambient groundwater quality standard in only one private drinking water well. We supplied the well's owners with bottled water, installed a treatment only system in their home so that their well water could be safely used, provided them access to an occupational health physician, and reached a negotiated settlement of all claims related to the contamination of their drinking water well.

In addition to our investigation of the animal burial site, we have sampled near the human burial site and did not find formaldehyde (used in embalming human remains) or radiological contamination. Throughout this work, we have provided several informational letters to Rennie Farm neighbors and met with interested residents. Below are documents related to the project to provide the community with progress updates. In addition, documents related to the work can be found on the state Department of Environmental Services (DES) website.

We share the same objectives as those living near Rennie Farm—we want to protect the health of our neighbors and maintain the value of their properties.


Informational Links

Rennie Farm Value Assurance Program

Public Communication

Site Maps

Site Photographs

Site Work Plans



Last Updated: 4/19/23