To read the full statement delivered by Senior Attorney Sharon Treat during the January 28, 2021 Press Conference on Maine PFAS Legislation, please click here.
Good morning. I am Sharon Treat, speaking to you from Hallowell, and representing the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, a national nonprofit advocacy organization that works closely with farmers to promote local, sustainable and environmentally beneficial agriculture and trade policies.
Maine farmers have learned the hard way that PFAS threatens their health and livelihoods, and the viability of their farms. We now have two Maine farms forced to shutter their operations because of contamination from these toxic chemicals — one in Arundel and the other in Fairfield. In Fairfield, in addition to pollution at the farm, at least 29 drinking water wells in the area have been found to be contaminated with high levels of PFAS, a number that keeps increasing as more wells are tested.
In this PFAS-caused disaster, Maine’s farmers and their neighbors are on the front lines, their health threatened by contaminated drinking water, the viability of their farms and livelihoods threatened by PFAS-contaminated beef and milk that is unsafe, inedible and unsaleable.
This is a crisis on many fronts, and it needs a comprehensive and timely response from Maine government. The Governor’s Task Force on PFAS helped define the extensive scope of the problem, and guided data collection that definitively established that multiple waters systems, including for schools, have been contaminated. Data collected by DEP and reported to the Task Force found PFAS in fish caught in both rivers and lakes, from northern Maine to the Kennebec River. Because PFAS pollution is both an ongoing and a legacy problem, what has been revealed so far may be just the tip of the iceberg.
Data collected by DEP has identified 500 properties where sludge was spread over the past 40 years, but testing at most of those sites remains to be done. Who knows what housing or other development, may have been built on land that may be contaminated with PFAS, or the extent of ground and surface waters contaminated across the state?
We must not delay testing fields where industrial wastes and sewage and septic sludge have been spread over decades. It is equally imperative to halt ongoing practices that create PFAS contamination in the first place. Maine needs comprehensive policies to clean up PFAS pollution, require responsible parties to pay for the harm their products have caused, and enforceable drinking water standards that protect the health of current and future generations. Fortunately, the legislation being rolled out today does all of that.
Download the full press statement here.