ARUNDEL, Maine — More than two years after studying consuming water and milk tanks on his 100-year-old Stoneridge Farm have been contaminated with a class of chemical compounds linked to most cancers and different well being considerations, farmer Fred Stone still can’t promote his milk and is dropping tons of of dollars a day, every single day.
Jill Brady | York County Coast Star
Stone stated he by no means knew the wastewater sludge he was licensed by the state to unfold on his fields and other fields throughout York County contained PFAS, a class of industrial chemical compounds linked to most cancers, fertility issues, hormone disruption and more.
Public health advocates on Tuesday held a press conference at the farm the place Stone described the nightmare he says has “ruined” his farm, while officers referred to as for expanded testing and an end to sludge spreading and use of PFAS chemical compounds in products.
[Subscribe to our free morning newsletter and get the latest headlines in your inbox]
“Maine must prevent exposure from past pollution and phase out current uses of these ‘forever chemicals’ to prevent future harm to human and environmental health,” stated Rebecca Boulos of the Maine Public Health Affiliation.
PFAS are a class of man-made chemical compounds used to supply waterproof and grease-proof paper, food containers, sticker paper and sticky notes. They have been also found in widespread family merchandise like stain and waterproof clothes, carpet spot cleaners, alkaline cleaners, denture cleaners, shampoos and dishwashing liquids. Additionally they have a variety of purposes in the aerospace, aviation, automotive and electronics industries.
Laurel Schaider, a research scientist for Silent Spring Institute stated PFAS are “extremely persistent in the environment — meaning they don’t break down” and stated different pollution sources beyond sludge spread on farmland have but to be recognized.
[Maine dairy farm, environmental group fear spread of milk contaminant]
“With over 4,700 chemicals and polymers in this family of ‘forever chemicals’ we don’t yet have a full understanding of the extent of contamination and associated risks,” she stated.
Gov. Janet Mills this month introduced the creation of a governor’s process pressure to mobilize state businesses and different stakeholders to assessment the prevalence of PFAS in Maine and to place forward a plan to deal with the chemical compounds.
Patrick MacRoy, deputy director of the Environmental Health Strategy Middle, stated the activity drive is an effective first step. He referred to as for the state to determine and check all probably impacted farms in the state. He stated as of Tuesday morning the state has began the paperwork of drafting an inventory of farms that may have been impacted.
[West Kennebunk well taken offline after discovery of PFAS]
MacRoy stated sludge was applied to farms across the state starting in the 1980s.
“In 2000, over 225 locations statewide, and 38 in York County, were permitted to receive it,” he stated. “It seems highly unlikely that Mr. Stone’s farm is the only one with high level of PFAS from sludge. All the evidence suggests that this is just the tip of the toxic iceberg, and there are likely many other farms, dairy and otherwise, that have similar problems. Until tests are done, that’s the only safe assumption to make.”
Stone stated the state advised farmers in the 1980s that spreading sludge on farm fields was the right factor to do.
[Maine task force to review prevalence of toxic chemicals]
“We were told it was our civic duty for two reasons,” he stated. “First, because it was a great soil amendment that would help increase the productivity of Maine’s farms, and second because spreading it across farmland would save our towns from paying substantial tipping fees for disposal.”
The sludge spread on his fields and others came from mill waste and the Kennebunk and Ogunquit Sewer Districts, Stone stated. He was licensed to unfold it, and did so 3 times a yr for about 15 years at a few dozen local farms, together with his personal.
“Toxic chemicals that I never used, and never even knew about until two years ago, have contaminated my cow’s milk, ruined my farming and hurt my family,” Stone stated. “I want the state of Maine to make sure that no other farming family has to go through what’s happening to us.”
[Feds allocate another $10M to study chemicals found in NH well]
Discovery of PFAS at Stoneridge Farm got here after the chemical compounds have been detected in the water at the Kennebunk, Kennebunkport and Wells Water District’s Kimball Lane nicely in West Kennebunk, which was shut down in 2017.
Exams in the spring of 2016 confirmed PFAS ranges of 50 elements per trillion, under the Environmental Protection Agency’s well being advisory of 70 ppt set in May 2016. Water district officials waited a yr to notify the public, and a number of other months before notifying Stone that a check nicely on his farm registered PFAS levels in extra of 140 ppt — twice the EPA’s health advisory.
Kennebunk Water District Superintendent Norm Labbe final February stated the district waited to notify the public of the PFAS that shutdown the Kimball Lane nicely as a result of the Department of Environmental Protection was still investigating what it referred to as an “emerging contaminant” and asked them to attend till it full its research.
[Water well contamination worries persist in South Berwick]
A DEP knowledge report issued Feb. 24, 2017, confirmed PFAS have been detected in water samples from the residential farm nicely, a small perennial stream and a pond in a gravel pit. DEP findings showed a PFAS degree of 50 ppt in the properly, 7.93 ppt in the stream and 41.07 in the pond.
DEP also tested for PFAS in the milk tank at the farm, with outcomes displaying 690 ppt, almost 10 occasions the EPA guideline for consuming water.
Stone stated he immediately notified the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Oakhurst Dairy, which had been buying milk from him at the time, of the letter from KKWWD in an e mail dated Nov. 9, 2016, just six days after receiving the letter from the water district.
Oakhurst Dairy stopped buying Stone’s milk in December 2016. Oakhurst dairy did not return requests for comment.
[Angus King needs to make it illegal for non-dairy products to be labeled ‘milk’]
MacRoy stated state management beneath the LePage administration swept the drawback beneath the rug, testing only one different farm and two cartons of milk at the grocery retailer.
“The highest levels of a toxic chemical in milk ever reported, and the only follow-up to determine if the public was at risk was two tests of milk off the shelf,” MacRoy stated Tuesday.
Labbe stated the KKWWD Kimball Lane nicely has been again on-line since June eight, 2018, with a full-scale carbon filtration system that has stored the PFAS to an undetectable degree. Labbe stated the nicely produces a mean of 1 million gallons a day for the district. The carbon for the filtration system costs the district $30,000 to $40,000 a yr, he stated.
“I am deeply concerned for the health of the vulnerable populations in our community and beyond,” stated Kate Manahan, a Kennebunk resident whose public water supply by way of the KKWWD was contaminated previous to the Kimball Lane nicely being shutdown.
[Milk to flow again at shuttered Bangor dairy]
As a social employee, Manahan stated she sees families daily doing every part they will to help youngsters who’ve been affected by chemical compounds like PFAS. She sees it manifested in developmental delays, their lack of ability to focus and extra.
“It’s happening to all of us, right now we are standing at the epicenter of one of the first identified PFAS locations in Maine. The chemicals leached into our water supply and we drank them. They can be passed along to babies in utero and in breast milk. And I wonder, what are we doing?” she stated.
Stone was capable of get his dairy operation back on-line for a while, however at a very excessive value, and it has been tenuous. He was capable of get the PFAS in his herd’s milk right down to zero by purchasing a new herd from New York that had not been exposed to the farm’s water and feed, installing a $20,000 water filtration system and buying his feed from out of state sources where hay is grown in fields that weren’t spread with sludge.
[Milk spills onto highway after tractor-trailer crash in Portland]
In the present day, Stone’s dairy operation is offline. He thinks some dangerous feed may be in charge as his milk is testing with PFAS again. He’s milking his cows and throwing it all away. The testing has been pricey as properly.
“Financially, we’re sinking,” he stated. “Besides the filtration system and the feed, our costs include every bill for investigating and testing the water and monitoring the milk, and the loss to the value of our real estate. This whole thing has been a nightmare.”
He needs DEP to carry the polluters accountable. Stone stated his lawyer Jonathan Lambert, of Lambert Coffin attorneys in Portland, filed go well with on his behalf in late December towards the sewer districts that licensed him to spread the sludge. Lambert didn’t respond to requests for particulars on the go well with.
[New England states fear contamination increases as EPA weakens rules]
MacRoy needs the state to pay for the testing at the farms and go after the producers for the value of the cleanup.
“It’s critical that we protect farmers as part of this process,” he stated. “They’re harmless victims on this. The state promoted and licensed them to apply the sludge saying it was protected and useful, but it turns out it’s not. The state can’t simply stroll away from that.
“As Mr. Stone mentioned, he has been having to pay for all the milk tests himself, which are hundreds of dollars per test once or twice a month. That makes no sense to me. The state needs to take this on.”
“I would encourage everyone to take action. PFAS are present in the average citizen, and they are a threat to all of us,” Manahan stated. “Together we can create and implement laws that can protect us from needless exposure and harm.”