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BDN 9/21/22: Union public drinking water system takes well offline after testing high for PFAS

A well serving Union residents connected to the public drinking water system has been taken offline after tests showed high levels of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, often called forever chemicals.

The well operated for a total of 19 days in 2022, and was not used in 2021 or 2020, according to Maine Water Co., which provides water to towns across Maine, including the 100 connections in Union. The well served residents prior to 2020.

Maine Water does not know the source of the PFAS contamination for the groundwater well on Depot Street, which is one of several wells that serve the community in Knox County, spokesperson Dan Meaney said. It is used during peak demand in the summer and was in service between July 22 and Aug. 9 this year.

On Aug. 17, samples collected from the Depot Street well and three other wells that supply the water system showed that only the Depot Street well had detectable levels of PFAS.

At 154 parts per trillion, the results far exceeded the state’s interim standard of 20 parts per trillion for PFAS in drinking water. As of Aug. 9, public water in Union is only coming from sources that had no detectable levels of PFAS, Meaney said.

The contaminated well provided about 21 percent of the water to the system when it was operating this summer. FULL ARTICLE

 
 

Maine History: January 2020. The Beginning of the End of the Out of the State Wasting of Maine.

On January 13, 2020, long time waste activists Bill Lippincott of Hamden, Hillary Lister of Augusta, Ed Spencer of Old Town, and Penobscot Tribal Ambassador Maulian Dana delivered petitions with over 250 signatures to the Department of Environmental Protection, setting Maine on the course that led, in 2022, to clamping down on the flow of waste into Maine. More below the link…

1st step to ending waste imports into Maine

The changes sought by they and hundreds of their supporters under the moniker Don’t Waste ME included (1) closing a loophole in the definition of “Maine-generated waste ” and (2) amending a separate part of the waste landfill rules to require the consideration of environmental justice when determining the benefit of licensing landfills.

As of May 2022, both these legislative objectives appear to have been achieved!

 

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To all Maine’s Legislators, and to Governor Mills, who supported and passed LD 1639 to stop out of state waste from entering our state owned landfill:

  Don’t Waste ME constituents from all over the state send you our heartfelt gratitude.
As we connect with thousands of constituents through our network groups, and as we have celebrated Earth Day throughout Maine, we acknowledge your hard work and the choices you make that have power to protect our environment and all of us as well.

Juniper Ridge Landfill. Photo by Sunlight Media Collective
 

Media Coverage the Maine Beacon illuminates the end to Maine importing waste!

 

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Gov. Mills signs out of state waste-barring bill into LAW!!!

The people have spoken & Maine lawmakers and Governor have listened. Maine now closes a loophole that has allowed hundreds of thousands of tons of waste from across New England into the state-owned Juniper Ridge landfill in Old Town.

First, Maine Senate unanimously approved LD 1639 last week. Then Maine’s House of Representatives approved the bill in a 102-25 vote on Monday. That very evening Governor Mills signed it.

Listen to LD 1639 supporters and opponents at the bills May 18, 2021 public hearing.

Read public written testimony on LD 1639

How did it happen? It was the determination of those who decided the absurd practice must end. That Maine was never meant to become the Northeast’s dumping ground and that the practice must stop. They fought and fought and fought, every defeat a learning experience. Never retreating.

Advancing, instead, in another direction. Then another. Every success another brick in the wall against the Trash Lords.

Rejecting the waste industry’s truckloads of tricks, of compromises.

Patient and strong as the tide sweeping the flats,

And finally as irresistable.

 

Op-Ed: We need to change Maine’s waste laws to stop PFAS contamination. BDN 3/4/2022

Juniper Ridge Landfill. BDN Photo by Linda Coan O’Kresik

By Bill Lippincott of Hampden, chair of Don’t Waste ME, a coalition of impacted community members and tribal leaders.

In a recent OpEd, Wayne Boyd, Casella Waste Systems’ general manager at Juniper Ridge Landfill, highlighted the issue of “forever chemicals” found in the leachate produced by our state-owned landfill. Don’t Waste ME, a citizens action group that supports waste policies that strengthen communities and protect the environment, is deeply concerned about this class of toxic, man-made chemicals. Only a few are regulated, however, they can be harmful to human health in even small amounts. Per- and polyfluoroalkyl compounds — also known as PFAS — are used in a multitude of everyday products and are now ubiquitous in the environment, even found in human blood.

Boyd makes a distinction between the “producers” and the “managers” and “receivers” of PFAS, in an apparent effort to distance Casella from the PFAS problem. However, Casella has contributed to this crisis, and continues to profit from exacerbating it.

Casella disposes of millions of gallons of leachate into the Penobscot River every year. Tests showed that some of this leachate contains PFAS at levels 20 times higher than Maine’s drinking water standard. The river is a source of traditional sustenance fishing important to the Penobscot Nation. While fishing is a vital cultural practice, it now poses a risk to human health.

One way PFAS gets into the landfill leachate is through the increased importation of oversized bulky wastes. Casella continues to seek permit revisions for increased amounts of oversized bulky wastes with claims it needs it to stabilize growing quantities of landfilled sludges coming to Juniper Ridge. However, landfill experts dismiss the use of oversized bulky wastes for sludge stabilization. Bulky waste provides areas where landfill gas can collect adding to the risk of fire and explosion.

We see the increased importation of bulky waste at Juniper Ridge as a means for Casella to further profit from the tipping fees received from disposing of this waste at the landfill, and a way in which it contributes to the PFAS problem in Maine. Much of the bulky waste buried at Juniper Ridge comes from out of state because of a loophole in the law. Our bill, LD 1639, will close this loophole.

Boyd goes on to throw up his hands in defeat and makes the misguided assertion that landfilling and composting sludge are the safe options we have for dealing with PFAS. What he fails to mention is that Casella has also profited from selling PFAS-contaminated compost at their Hawk Ridge facility in Unity.

Using sludge in compost is unsafe. Careful landfilling of sludge offers a stop gap. Sludge must be dried and stabilized, protected from water infiltration, and contained in appropriately lined and sited facilities. Leachate must be pretreated on site for removal of PFAS before any discharges can be released.

Taxpayers should not be paying the brunt of remediation costs. The chemical companies that make PFAS must pay their share of the costs for remediation and infrastructure, as should Casella, which is contractually obligated for all pollution control at the Juniper Ridge Landfill.

The toxic liability cannot be shunted off by one state onto another. Industry officials warn that moving forward proactively will cost too much. The truth is it is already costing us too much. PFAS remediation is enormously expensive. If we don’t make the hard choices now, we’ll pay much more down the road.

Courtesy Bangor Daily News

 

LD 1639 to resurface  in coming Legislative session. 

The incoming legislative session brings back LD 1639 An Act To Protect the Health and Welfare of Maine Communities and Reduce Harmful Solid Waste The bill could easily put an end to the disgraceful use of Maine as Permanent Dumpland of the Northeast. But will state legislative leaders stand up to the blandishments and threats of Big Waste? Below, read what the people told the Maine legislature back in May 2021, when the Environment and Natural Resources Committee last considered the bill Bill history and related documents

Public Hearing Testimony, 66 items

Barrett, EdLewiston(41 KB)
Blair, PeterConservation Law Foundation(243 KB)
Blanchette, LeonardBrunswick Sewer District(93 KB)
Blows, JamesSaco(41 KB)
Boulos, RebeccaMaine Public Health Association(210 KB)
Boyd, WayneHolden(41 KB)
Bradford, AbigailEnvironmental Priorities Coalition(99 KB)
Bullard, SamPeace & Justice Center of Eastern Maine(57 KB)
Cayer, MarkMayor of Lewiston(47 KB)
Chase, CrystalChase Trucking(188 KB)
Clark, PaulaMaine DEP(230 KB)
Colihan, DanaPortland(1003 KB)
Couillard, TroyTRC Trucking(57 KB)
Curley, PatriciaEdgecomb(47 KB)
Dana, MaulianPenobscot Nation(12 KB)
Dearborn, MelissaWaldoboro(75 KB)
Deming, AdamGray(12 KB)
Eaton, ChuckGreenbush(227 KB)
Elliott, JacquelynWaterboro(84 KB)
Eshoo, Amy350 Maine(164 KB)
Exchange, MitchellExchange Trucking LLC(59 KB)
Filion, NicholeComplete Staffing Solutions(57 KB)
Firmin, ScottPortland Water District(158 KB)
Gendron, ToddEasy Rent-All Corp.(32 KB)
Gilman, BenMaine State Chamber of Commerce(127 KB)
Goldberg, NealMMA(312 KB)
Green, ZebSkowhegan(51 KB)
Grenfell, TrevanionUnity(41 KB)
Haskell, TimothyYork Sewer District(111 KB)
Haynes, MaryNorway, Maine(41 KB)
Jackson, AnthonyBrewer(13 KB)
Jeffers, LincolnLewiston(181 KB)
Leahey, GregoryReSource Waste Services(486 KB)
Leithiser, CharlesOld Town(157 KB)
Leslie, JohnOrrington(41 KB)
Lippincott, BillHampden(70 KB)
Lister, HillaryAthens(122 KB)
MacDonald, AmberHolden(41 KB)
Martinez-Alfonzo, StephanieUnity(38 KB)
Mason, GarrettAssociated Builders and Contractors of Maine(70 KB)
Merrill, KellySkowhegan(57 KB)
Mosley, MichaelWaterville(56 KB)
Nichols, SarahBangor(594 KB)
Obomsawin, MaliSunlight Media Collective(64 KB)
Oltarzewski, DianeBelfast(57 KB)
Peaslee, TravisLewiston – Auburn(201 KB)
Peters, RyanNewport(41 KB)
Robertson, CherylOrono(61 KB)
Roger & Family Doucette, SarahWhitefield, NH(12 KB)
Sack, KerryOld Town(55 KB)
sanborn, Lokotahindian island(141 KB)
Smith, HunterSierra Club Maine(101 KB)
Spencer, EdDon’t Waste Maine(42 KB)
Staples, BarryStaples Trucking(360 KB)
Stone, BonniePittsfield(41 KB)
Swan, JonSave Forest Lake(54 KB)
Tipping, MikeOrono(58 KB)
Townsend, ElizaAppalachian Mountain Club(447 KB)
Troiano, TJTroiano Waste Services, Inc(210 KB)
Wade, TimMaine Water Environment Association(116 KB)
Walker, LeroyAuburn(287 KB)
Ward, MarkBristol(73 KB)
Warming, Betty-JoLimington(41 KB)
Willett, ShaneWillett Trucking(56 KB)
Woodbury, SarahSouth Portland(111 KB)
WRIGHT, SHELBYCasella(337 KB)

Work Sessions

 
 

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Maine Waste History 2006: SAPPI seeks CDD incineration in Westbrook

 By Hillary Lister, for Maine Indymedia November 17, 2006

Over 1 Million Pounds a Day of Toxic Construction & Demolition Waste Planned to be Burned in Westbrook

On Thursday, November 17, about a dozen people spoke out at a Public Hearing against plans for over a million pounds a day of toxic construction and demolition waste to be burned at the SAPPI mill in Westbrook.On Thursday, November 17, about a dozen people spoke out at a Public Hearing against plans for over a million pounds a day of toxic construction and demolition waste to be burned at the SAPPI mill in Westbrook. (Continued below_photo)

Sappi Mill, Westbrook, Maine (File photo)

SAPPI also plans to build a massive construction and demolition waste processing facility to take in this waste, most of which would likely be shipped in from out of state.

The waste that would be burned in Westbrook, in Maine’s most populated region, only miles from Portland, would be allowed to include over 10,000 pounds a day each of plastics and asbestos, over 15,000 pounds a day of Arsenic treated wood, over 500 pounds a day of Lead, and unknown amounts of Mercury.

According to Department of Environmental Protection representatives speaking at the meeting, the highly toxic ash that results from incinerating this waste would be run through the SAPPI water treatment plant for disposal.

Maine is the only state in New England that has so-called “biomass boilers” incinerating this waste. It is illegal to landfill this waste in Massachusetts. In New Hampshire, where there is a moratorium on burning this waste, Governor Lynch stated, “The burning of construction and demolition debris poses serious risks to the health of our citizens and the health of the environment. …80% of the debris burned in Maine comes from out of state. We must not let New Hampshire become the new dumping ground for this material.”

The plans to incinerate this waste in Westbrook is only one of many plans for dumping and burning this waste in Maine. This practice has gained strength following state legislation passed at the last minute and without a needed Public Hearing this Spring that encourages the importating and burning of this waste in Maine.

There is also significant public funding for corporations incinerating this waste, thanks to Bush’s Energy Bill which provides ever growing amounts of taxpayer money for “renewable energy” sources. Thanks to waste industry lobbying pressure, incinerating toxic waste is considered to be an eligible form of “renewable energy”.

The town of Athens, Maine has a year-long moratorium that stops the incineration of this waste. This moratorium was passed with major public support. It allows the people to develop local ordinances that give the community the power to decide whether it wants to allow burning this waste in the town. Other communities can use this same process to protect themselves from the dangers of burning this waste.

There are better ways to deal with construction and demolition debris so it does not become dangerous waste. Burning these materials results in the creation of new and more concentrated poisons. Deconstruction of buildings and reuse of materials is standard practice throughout the world – why not in Maine?

The state DEP and legislature have said quite clearly that they consider incineration of this toxic waste to be safe. While it is important to send comments to the DEP, attend Public Hearings, and appeal their rulings in favor of this dangerous practice, local organizing will be necessary for folks to effectively protect the health of their families and communities from this threat.

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The DEP is accepting written testimony on the Air Emissions application for this project through Tuesday, November 21, 2006. Comments can be sent to Randy.L.McMullin (at) maine.gov.

For more info on opposition to burning this waste in Westbrook, email westbrookforcleanair (at) yahoo.com .

For more information on the Athens moratorium and ordinance, email sterren (at) brandeis.edu

 

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Global Assessment: Urgent steps must be taken to reduce methane emissions this decade.

The United Nations Environmental Program has issued a stark warning/clarion call for humanity to drastically drop the amount of methane gas we released into our atmosphere.

UNEP describes itself as “The leading global environmental authority that sets the global environmental agenda, promotes the coherent implementation of the environmental dimension of sustainable development within the United Nations system, and serves as an authoritative advocate for the global environment.

The assessment integrates the climate and air pollution costs and benefits from methane mitigation. 

“Cutting methane is the strongest lever we have to slow climate change over the next 25 years and complements necessary efforts to reduce carbon dioxide.” said Inger Andersen, Executive Director of UNEP. “The benefits to society, economies, and the environment are numerous and far outweigh the cost. We need international cooperation to urgently reduce methane emissions as much as possible this decade,”

 

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BDN: With Hampden waste plant’s reopening in the works, Orrington rival sees chance to collaborate

As a shuttered waste processing plant in Hampden looks to reopen under new ownership later this year, the Orrington incinerator that’s been handling most of the Bangor area’s waste in the interim sees a chance for collaboration with the waste plant across the river rather than continued rivalry.

“I think two facilities can survive,” said Henry Lang, plant manager at Orrington’s Penobscot Energy Recovery Co., or PERC, which has generated electricity by burning trash since the 1980s. “If the two facilities work together, they actually come out ahead.”

PERC has struggled to stay profitable and find new sources of waste since more than 100 towns and cities stopped sending their household trash there in 2018 in favor of the Coastal Resources of Maine plant in Hampden that was supposed to open that year. The Orrington plant has since upgraded its equipment to reduce processing costs and incinerate a larger portion of the waste it takes in. But a few other ventures — including one to prepare Maine wood chips for export to Europe, and another to import shredded plastic waste from Northern Ireland — haven’t panned out.

full article CLICK HERE