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Lawmakers pass ban on spreading of wastewater sludge on fields; now heads to Gov. Mills

Forever Chemicals Sludge
Robert F. Bukaty
In this Thursday Aug. 15, 2019 photo, hay dries after a recent cut at Stoneridge Farm in Arundel, Maine. The farm has been forced to shut down after sludge spread on the farm land was linked to high levels of PFAS in the milk.

A bill that would prohibit the land application of sludge in Maine has passed the Legislature and is headed to Gov. Janet Mills' desk.

The bill is among a series of measures aimed at addressing pollution with the "forever chemicals" known as PFAS. Several farms have either shut down or suspended sales after high levels of PFAS were discovered in their water and soils. That contamination has been linked, in many cases, to treated municipal sludge that was used as fertilizer on farm fields under a state-licensed program.

The bill approved by the House and Senate would ban the land application of sludge as well as the sale of compost that is made with municipal sludge.

Mills is still reviewing the bill. But her administration supported the original version of the legislation.