Bill would allow owners of land polluted by ‘forever chemicals’ sue manufacturers

A new bill going before the Maine Legislature would hold manufacturers of so-called “forever chemicals” accountable for pollution to farmland in the state.The polyfluoroalkyl substances are blamed for toxic contamination on at least two Maine dairy farms.Stoneridge dairy farm in Arundel used sewage sludge to fertilize its fields until last year when the owner learned the sludge had been contaminated by PFAS, and so was his cows’ milk.Known as “forever chemicals” because they won’t break down in nature, PFAS can cause infertility, immune deficiency, liver dysfunction and cancer.Rep. Henry Ingwersen, of Arundel, wants to amend Maine law to let those whose land is harmed sue PFAS manufacturers within six years of discovering the damage.”Because with PFAS contamination, this pollution occurred two, three, four decades ago on many Maine farms,” Ingwersen said.The state is now investigating another dairy farm in Somerset County which used sludge and had forever chemicals in its milk 150 times the legal limit.”The manufacturer’s a polluter, because they knowingly put this stuff into ingredients knowing that it was harmful. Sewage plants, water treatments, are just another victim of this pollution,” Ingwersen said.Patrick Macroy, of the Environmental Health Strategy Center, said the state has a list of more than 200 properties that used sludge.”We should be testing the soil of those farms, and we should be testing the agricultural products,” Macroy said.Ground water has been contaminated by PFAS from firefighting foams, cookware and stain-resistant coatings.”We certainly believe they should be eliminated from all nonessential uses, and certainly we think things like stain coating on fabric is not an essential use,” Macroy said.The legislature’s Judiciary Committee will hold a public hearing on the new bill on Tuesday.

A new bill going before the Maine Legislature would hold manufacturers of so-called “forever chemicals” accountable for pollution to farmland in the state.

The polyfluoroalkyl substances are blamed for toxic contamination on at least two Maine dairy farms.

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Stoneridge dairy farm in Arundel used sewage sludge to fertilize its fields until last year when the owner learned the sludge had been contaminated by PFAS, and so was his cows’ milk.

Known as “forever chemicals” because they won’t break down in nature, PFAS can cause infertility, immune deficiency, liver dysfunction and cancer.

Rep. Henry Ingwersen, of Arundel, wants to amend Maine law to let those whose land is harmed sue PFAS manufacturers within six years of discovering the damage.

“Because with PFAS contamination, this pollution occurred two, three, four decades ago on many Maine farms,” Ingwersen said.

The state is now investigating another dairy farm in Somerset County which used sludge and had forever chemicals in its milk 150 times the legal limit.

“The manufacturer’s a polluter, because they knowingly put this stuff into ingredients knowing that it was harmful. Sewage plants, water treatments, are just another victim of this pollution,” Ingwersen said.

Patrick Macroy, of the Environmental Health Strategy Center, said the state has a list of more than 200 properties that used sludge.

“We should be testing the soil of those farms, and we should be testing the agricultural products,” Macroy said.

Ground water has been contaminated by PFAS from firefighting foams, cookware and stain-resistant coatings.

“We certainly believe they should be eliminated from all nonessential uses, and certainly we think things like stain coating on fabric is not an essential use,” Macroy said.

The legislature’s Judiciary Committee will hold a public hearing on the new bill on Tuesday.