Read the full article by Marina Schauffler (The Maine Monitor)

“A small jet boat slapped along the Penobscot River, prompting a flock of ducks to lift off from the water just below an outfall pipe of the ND Paper mill in Old Town. A team from the Penobscot Indian Nation’s Department of Natural Resources was headed out to gather water-quality data.

Having spent more than two decades monitoring pollution in the watershed, Jan Paul, the Penobscot Nation’s water resources technician, said she no longer eats duck, fish or many other traditional tribal foods. For her and for Daniel Kusnierz, the Nation’s water resources program manager, one of the hardest aspects of their work is helping tribal members navigate the risks of contaminated fish and riverine plants.

‘Wild foods are important to the tribe,’ Kusnierz said. ‘It’s who the Penobscots are.’

How much PFAS is entering the river and the full range of potential sources remain unclear due to lack of systematic water testing. But one primary contributor appears to be landfill leachate — rainwater that has collected chemicals as it percolates through layers of waste.

The ND Paper mill and several wastewater treatment plants along the Penobscot River routinely discharge a mix of wastewater and landfill leachate. ‘Leachate is loaded with PFAS,’ said Laura Orlando, a civil engineer and adjunct professor at the Boston University School of Public Health.

‘Wastewater facilities and industrial plants with conventional primary and secondary treatment are not designed to manage PFAS,’ Orlando said. The first treatment plant in Maine to pilot filteration of PFAS through tertiary treatment, Anson-Madison Sanitary District, is beginning that work this month, said its superintendent, Dale Clark.” …