Read the full article by Kevin Miller (Press Herald)

“A legislative committee voted Wednesday to grant state environmental regulators the authority to order the cleanup of Maine sites contaminated with so-called ‘forever chemicals,’ a problem that is growing in Maine and across the country.

Meanwhile, Maine Sens. Angus King and Susan Collins joined a half-dozen colleagues in petitioning the Biden administration to allow some of the $1.9 trillion in newly passed stimulus funds to be spent on PFAS contamination. The letter was, in part, responding to an appeal from Maine Gov. Janet Mills for more federal assistance in dealing with the chemicals.

‘PFAS has been found in public drinking water systems and residential wells throughout the United States,’ the senators wrote in their letter Tuesday to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen. ‘Addressing this contamination requires significant investment and proactive efforts to remediate. Ensuring states, tribes and local governments have flexibility to use (American Rescue Plan) infrastructure funds to support their PFAS work will help combat this pervasive and ongoing public health threat that impacts so many Americans.’

Maine, like many states, is grappling with a steadily expanding list of sites contaminated with per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, which are highly persistent chemicals increasingly linked to health concerns. PFAS have been used for decades to manufacture a host of common household goods, including some of the coated paper products made in Maine paper mills.

The state’s most severe and still-growing PFAS hotspot is located in the central Maine town of Fairfield, where tests have revealed 61 contaminated wells located near farm fields that were fertilized with treated sludge that apparently contained PFAS. The state’s investigation, which was triggered by elevated levels of PFAS in a sample of milk, has now expanded to Unity and Benton, where sludge from the same from wastewater treatment facility also was spread on farms.

The Maine Department of Environmental Protection is seeking to add PFAS to the list of hazardous substances in the state’s version of the federal Superfund law. The change would give the agency additional authority to investigate and mitigate contamination risks, as well as the power to require responsible parties to clean up pollution – or to pay for the work – just as the state currently can for mercury, waste oil or other hazardous substances…”