A few weeks ago, one of my constituents contacted me and expressed their deep concern and worry over the results of early PFAS testing in the soil and water on Maine farms, including their own. I empathized with them and understood their pain. After all, who wouldn’t feel anxious after they saw the headlines about the PFAS crisis affecting our farmers and food producers? We are talking about people’s livelihood, identity, pride, and way of life here. Some farmers are pulling their produce from the shelves. Others won’t be putting seeds into the ground this year. While all of this sounds scary — and it is — I firmly believe that I was sent to Augusta to find solutions to problems and advocate for the people who, through no fault of their own, find themselves in a tough spot. Now that we know we have a PFAS problem — and we do have a PFAS problem — we must take steps to fix it.

Last year, my colleagues and I passed legislation to require PFAS testing at sites where it is known that PFAS-contaminated sludge was spread on the land. For decades, the sludge was promoted as a free and safe fertilizer for farmland, but now we know that the sludge isn’t really that safe. LD 1600, which became law in July 2021, provided the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) with funding to test and monitor PFAS levels in groundwater and soil. We needed to pass this legislation so that we could start to understand the scope of the PFAS crisis.

Since then, DEP has launched an online map of septage and sludge sites, which is where the department has been targeting early PFAS testing. To access and view the map, please visit https://maine.gov.dep/spills/topics/pfas/. Then click on “Where is PFAS in Maine” and “Maine Sludge and Septage Mapper.” In our district, Dayton is a Tier I Site, which means that at least 10,000 cubic yards or more of sludge was applied on land, homes are within 1/2 mile of the site, and PFAS are likely to be present in the sludge. If you have questions about DEP’s work, please contact David Madore, deputy commissioner and communications director, at (207) 287-5842 or [email protected] You can also contact DEP at [email protected]

To help ensure that we don’t have this problem again, and to make sure it doesn’t get worse, my colleagues and I are considering LD 1911 this session. If passed, the bill would ban the practice of spreading PFAS-contaminated sludge on farmland that isn’t already contaminated with PFAS. Similarly, we know that DEP will need significant funding and support in order to test all the sites that need to be tested, as well begin cleaning up the contamination. LD 2013 would allocate $100 million in funding for efforts to clean up PFAS across the state. I look forward to supporting these proposals, and I hope that my colleagues will join me.

I know that the PFAS problem can be overwhelming and scary, but please know that you and your families are not alone. I promise to do everything that I can to support you and share resources that might help you in your situation.

If you have questions about legislation or need assistance with a state agency, please do not hesitate to reach out to me at [email protected] or my office at (207) 287-1515.

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