Download a PDF of the testimony in support of LD 1600, "An Act To Investigate Perfluoroalkyl and Polyfluoroalkyl Substance Contamination of Land and Groundwater”.
Senator Brenner, Representative Tucker, and honorable members of the Environment and Natural Resources Committee. My name is Sharon Treat and I live in Hallowell. I am Senior Attorney for the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP), on whose behalf I am testifying today in support of LD 1600, “An Act To Investigate Perfluoroalkyl and Polyfluoroalkyl Substance Contamination of Land and Groundwater”.
IATP is a nonprofit headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota with offices in Hallowell, Maine and other locations. We work closely with farmers to promote local, sustainable and environmentally beneficial agriculture and trade. As PFAS has increasingly been found to have contaminated food and farms, we have advocated for measures to investigate and remediate PFAS, as well as “turn off the tap” to stop PFAS at the source, and hold manufacturers accountable for the damage caused by PFAS manufacture and use. LD 1600 is an important measure to address the PFAS crisis. Like the rest of the country, Maine allowed and even encouraged land disposal of sewage and industrial sludges, so-called “biosolids,” and composted waste.
At last count, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has identified over 700 locations, much of it farmland, where sludge and septage was spread over the past 40 years. State-ordered testing in 2019 revealed nearly all sewage sludge used as fertilizer or for compost in Maine is contaminated with toxic PFAS. Only a handful properties where sewage and other sludges were spread have been tested. Almost no septage has been tested; initial results show that septage could be as significant a source of contamination as sewage wastes.
LD 1600 establishes a timetable and criteria for prioritizing testing of these legacy sludge and septage spreading sites, which is absolutely essential in order to protect public health, and the integrity and healthfulness of our food system, water and soils. The experience to date has made clear that even if Maine halted all use of PFAS today, the state faces an ongoing contamination problem that reaches back decades. Known PFAS contamination of Maine’s soil and waters in data being collected by Maine DEP, most recently for drinking water wells in the Fairfield area, show levels of PFAS that are astronomical, some of the highest recorded in North America so far. PFAS contamination of both the Tozier Farm in Fairfield and the Stoneridge Farm in Arundel has shut down those farms, destroying livelihoods. Farmers and their neighbors have PFAS in their blood, and decades of health problems may be linked to PFAS, which has been associated with kidney and testicular cancer, as well as thyroid disease, compromised immune systems and infertility. Elevated PFAS exposure is also associated with lower antibody responses to vaccinations in children and adults, including COVID-19 vaccines.
Continue reading the testimony.