As a resident of Brunswick, I have been struck by the care and attention the Town of Brunswick is making regarding the concerns for the presence of PFAS in the artificial turf installation proposed by Bowdoin College. However, there is a much greater PFAS problem facing the town that has not been given similar attention.

It is long beyond time for action by the Town of Brunswick to demand the State of Maine end the ongoing, everyday transport of PFAS by the Navy and Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority into the waters of the Androscoggin River and the surface waters of the Brunswick Landing leading to Mere Creek. Many citizen efforts to delay residential development at the former air station until this concern has been remediated have been unaddressed by the town, even though the actual PFAS contamination exists and continues to migrate unabated into our storm and surface waters. This is a present and ongoing threat to Brunswick residents and local wildlife.

While the Brunswick Topsham Water District is taking emergency measures to contend with the PFAS originating from the former base that is contaminating its Jordan Avenue well field, the town has demanded nothing with regard to the PFAS flowing into the Androscoggin River and the stormwater and surface waters at Brunswick Landing flowing into Mere Creek. Recent testing by the Navy shows concentrations of PFOA and PFOS in stormwater above 8,500 nanograms per liter. These levels are significantly above Maine’s drinking water standard of 20 nanograms per liter for the sum six PFAS, including PFOA and PFOS.

Not only do we have ongoing impact from the existing PFAS contamination, but MRRA maintains approximately 9,300 gallons of Navy legacy aqueous film forming foam (AFFF) stored in hangers on site, of which approximately 3,000 gallons of AFFF are the older PFOS-based fire retardant. One teacup of an inadvertent spill of this AFFF can contaminate millions of gallons of water posing a significant future threat to the community. Neither MRRA, nor the Town of Brunswick have the ability to address the risk of an exposure of this magnitude, and yet everyone has decided to focus on artificial turf in which the PFAS is at least encapsulated.

In addition to the threat of a catastrophic spill of stockpiled AFFF, high levels of PFAS have been detected at the airport stormwater outfalls. The airport stormwater system is regulated by Maine DEP and according to EPA’s website, the stormwater permit issued by DEP has expired. Nevertheless, despite being aware that PFAS levels at the outfalls are more than 100 times Maine’s drinking water standard, DEP continues to allow the airport to discharge this polluted stormwater. Recently EPA recommended that states require PFAS monitoring, and in some cases pretreatment, of discharges at airport facilities, but DEP has not implemented these recommendations to date. The State has provided DEP with more than $300 million to address PFAS, yet at the former Brunswick Naval Air Station, the stormwater contamination and offsite transport, some of the worst in the state, remains unaddressed. The Town has demanded nothing of the Navy, MRRA, nor of the state to address these issues.

The Town of Brunswick needs to act and demand immediate removal of the thousands of gallons of legacy AFFF material from the property. Furthermore. the Town needs to require DEP to implement the EPAs recommendations aimed at restricting discharges PFAS into surface waters of the state, especially on this former military installation in Brunswick, where extremely elevated levels of PFAS are present and have contaminated our public drinking water supply. It is time the Town of Brunswick do everything in its power to ensure an end to this present and ongoing PFAS exposure risk and take all action to ensure a future discharge which will be catastrophic does not occur.

Josh Katz is a Brunswick resident.

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