Governor aims to add funds to fight ‘chemicals forever’

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AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — Maine lawmakers will consider more funding to fight “chemicals forever” as more farms discover contamination.

Perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances – known as PFAS – have been found at hundreds of agricultural sites where sludge or papermaking waste containing the toxins has been spread. PFAS are also found in wells and landfills.

PFAS are often described as forever chemicals, as some do not degrade naturally and are expected to persist in the environment indefinitely.

The chemicals are linked to cancer and other health problems, and Governor Janet Mills is proposing to add another $9 million to fight contamination, more than a third of that for improved testing.

The proposed additional funding contained in the governor’s supplemental budget is in addition to the $30 million already dedicated to testing and mitigation efforts, the Bangor Daily News reported.

The funding follows estimates by state officials that it could cost tens of millions of dollars a year to detect and remediate the contamination.

A diverse interest group, from environmentalists to sportspeople, has called for an ambitious state response to the problem.

Additional funding included in the Governor’s Supplementary Budget would help reduce PFAS risks, support research and purchase testing equipment. The state would also create five new positions in the Bureau of Agriculture and three in the Maine Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine – a group organized to advocate for hunters, anglers, trappers and gun owners – was one of the main interest groups pushing for PFAS mitigation funding to to understand the scale of the problem and enable the state to be at the forefront of mitigation, said David Trahan, the group’s executive director.

“I think Maine is now positioned to be ahead of other states that are just finding out they have a real problem,” he said.

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