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State Testing Private Wells In Fairfield For PFAS Contamination

The state is investigating contamination of dozens of wells in the Somerset County town of Fairfield.

Dave Burns, director of the state Bureau of Remediation & Waste Management, says the presence of two kinds of PFAS chemicals in the wells may be related to the spread of untreated wastewater solids, or “sludge,” as fertilizer on fields.

“I’m not at this point able to say if it’s the cause or not the cause, but it’s something we’re following, is the fields that they were spread on, doing testing on the fields, and then they may cause us to sample the private wells nearby,” he says.

Contamination was first discovered at Tozier Dairy Farm — the agency then began testing nearby residential wells used for drinking water.

“Right now we’re focused on the water supply wells that people are using nearby, because most of that area is on private wells. And we’re testing those wells based on what we believe the most likely areas would be if there was contamination,” Burns says.

He says as of Friday afternoon, the agency had results for 35 water supplies, and of those, 18 exceed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s limit for the two chemicals. He says they’re doing the testing needed to figure out how to fix people’s wells so they have safe drinking water.

Meanwhile, the Portland Press Herald reports the town of Fairfield is distributing free bottled water to affected people.

Nora is originally from the Boston area but has lived in Chicago, Michigan, New York City and at the northern tip of New York state. Nora began working in public radio at Michigan Radio in Ann Arbor and has been an on-air host, a reporter, a digital editor, a producer, and, when they let her, played records.