Read the full article by Kevin Miller (Portland Press Herald)
“Thirty years ago, Bruce Harrington was so concerned about the sludge being spread as fertilizer on a farm near his family’s Fairfield home that he confronted the drivers of the trucks literally ‘drooling’ with the foul-smelling waste.
An argument ensued. But Harrington eventually agreed to step aside after police who responded explained that the waste had been treated and ‘there wasn’t any harm that was going to come to anybody.’
On Wednesday, Harrington and his wife fought back tears as they shared their fears that the family’s drinking water, gardens and fruit trees, and even the pool used by their children and grandchildren, were poisoned for years by ‘forever chemicals’ that tested 350 times higher than state and federal safety limits.
The couple urged lawmakers to ensure that homeowners have legal recourse against the companies responsible for that pollution.
‘Our power has been taken away – our house and our retirement, everything has been taken away and there’s nothing that we did,’ Catherine Harrington said. ‘So we need this time so we can get some sort of recourse from this. Otherwise, it’s like, where is the fairness in it?’
The Harringtons were among more than a dozen people testifying in support of two bills that would give Maine property owners six years from the discovery of pollution to file lawsuits. While PFAS hotspots have cropped up around Maine in recent years, the growing cluster of contaminated wells near a Fairfield dairy farm is raising additional concerns about how many other farm fields around the state received PFAS-contaminated sludge.
‘We don’t know what the future holds,’ said Harry Irving, who raised three daughters as well as chickens and produce on a Fairfield property whose water tested more than 270 times above the federal limit. ‘I urge the committee go forward with this legislation. It is very much needed so I can protect my family and so that other citizens of Maine can be protected from these chemicals that are ‘forever.”
The bills aim to prevent ‘responsible parties’ – potentially including chemical manufacturers and, in Maine, the paper mills that used PFAS – from claiming the state’s statute of limitations only extends six years after the pollution actually occurs, regardless of when it is uncovered…”