Comments on the Maine PFAS Task Force Draft Final Report were submitted on December 6, 2019.
To read the comments in full, please download the PDF.
Thank you for the opportunity to comment on “Managing PFAS in Maine,” the draft Final Report from the Maine PFAS Task Force. These comments are submitted on behalf of the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota with offices in Hallowell, Maine and other locations.1 As an organization that works closely with farmers and seeks to promote local, sustainable and environmentally beneficial agriculture, IATP is particularly interested in how PFAS contamination is affecting food, farms and farmers. Since the PFAS Task Force first convened in May, we have closely followed its meetings and reviewed the data and findings of the state agencies investigating the extent of PFAS contamination in Maine. We have also reviewed reports and recommendations of PFAS commissions in other states facing similar problems.
The Task Force report provides a good starting point for identifying future action to address PFAS in Maine. We have been impressed with the serious effort undertaken by Maine agencies - including the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), Drinking Water Program and Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Maine CDC) in the Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (DACF), and the Department of Defense, Veterans and Emergency Management - to identify PFAS sources and to comprehensively map PFAS contamination. This effort is commendable, given the lack of dedicated funding and the need to shift resources and staff from other priorities. While there remain significant holes in this data mapping - particularly with respect to historic field spreading of sewage, composted biosolids and paper mill sludge, as well as both historic and current septage disposal sites - the agencies’ work so far provides important baseline information that can guide future agency investigations and state policy choices.
We are also pleased that the section of the report focused specifically on agriculture is relatively comprehensive. It properly recognizes the need to: (1) expand data collection and assessment, including future testing of milk and other agricultural products; (2) review historic records; (3) continue scientific study of plant and animal uptake; (4) establish PFAS standards for food; and (5) secure additional funding to assist farmers who face financial hardship from lost production caused by PFAS contamination.