MADISON — A federal funding bill containing $1.6 million to install a “forever chemicals” treatment system in the Anson-Madison Sanitary District has been sent to President Joe Biden’s desk and is awaiting his signature.

The U.S. Senate passed the interior appropriations bill Thursday night 68-31. The bill was passed earlier by the House of Representatives, and now just needs to be signed by the president. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, secured the funding and got the item added to the bill last October.

“I strongly advocated for the funding for the construction of this treatment system, which will help Maine address the PFAS contamination threat to our communities statewide and ensure a safe food and water supply,” Collins said in a statement Friday.

The money will be used to create a PFAS, or “forever chemicals,” treatment system at the Anson-Madison wastewater treatment plant that will serve the entire state.

PFAS, or per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances, are a group of manmade chemicals that are both oil and water resistant, making them useful in a wide variety of consumer products, from clothing to cosmetics. However, the chemicals do not break down easily in the environment or in the body, and in some areas of Maine have been found in water, soil, people and animals, earning them the nickname “forever chemicals.”

Dale Clark, general manager for the Anson-Madison Sanitary District, said Friday that he was happy to hear about the funding and see the project start to come together.


“We recognize this is a serious problem, and why not get out in front of it and get a proper treatment system to remove it from the environment?” Clark said. “We can help other communities with PFAS treatment issues, this will be bigger than what we need for just Anson and Madison.”

Much of the PFAS contamination in the state has been linked to the spreading of sludge, a byproduct from wastewater treatment, and high levels of the chemicals have been found in some areas, such as Fairfield, in well water, soil, venison, fish, chicken eggs and even some vegetables.

The Maine Department of Environmental Protection is currently working to install carbon filtration systems in homes with contaminated well water that registers PFAS levels above the state’s 20 parts per trillion limit for drinking water. But Maine doesn’t have the infrastructure right now to address PFAS contamination in other substances.

This can be a significant problem for dairy farmers with contaminated cows. Wastewater treatment plants won’t accept manure that has PFAS unless the chemicals are removed with advanced technology. If farmers can’t get rid of the manure at a wastewater treatment plant, it will likely end up in a manure pit. Once those pits are full, though, where can it go?

Collins’ statement goes on to say that the best long-term solution to the problem is “off-site treatment at wastewater treatment facilities and disposal at secured landfills.”

“Unfortunately, Maine has experienced considerable PFAS contamination, which has not only threatened our water supply, but adversely affected the livelihoods of farmers,” Collins said. “Farmers across Maine are discovering PFAS contamination that is not only affecting their livelihoods, but also threatening our food supply.”


Gov. Janet Mills expressed support for the funding when it was announced in October, and thanked Collins for her work again Friday in a statement.

“PFAS threatens the health and wellbeing of Maine people, and it is devastating the livelihoods of our hardworking farmers,” Mills said. “It’s a serious problem, which is why my administration has been working closely with Maine’s congressional delegation to secure funding that will allow us to build the infrastructure needed to treat PFAS-contaminated materials, a move that will complement our efforts at the state level to remediate PFAS.”

Mills has also committed $1 million through the Department of Environmental Protection’s Clean Water State Revolving Fund to the project and her Maine Jobs and Recovery Plan includes another $1 million.

Collins also worked with U.S. Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, and U.S. Rep. Jared Golden, D-2nd District, to secure $1 million for an anaerobic biodigester in Madison in the transportation and housing appropriations bill, which was also passed by the Senate Thursday.

“The forest products sector is one of Maine’s oldest and most important industries — creating countless jobs across many generations,” King said in a statement. “Madison has long been at the heart of this industry, and the new $1 million investment for the Forest Products Hub to construct a biodigester will help the town lead the way with the forest products and energy of the future.”

The biodigester will convert organic feed stock into renewable biogas, the statement says, and addresses several needs of the area: on-site renewable energy, reducing waste in landfills and reducing the carbon footprint of a longtime industrial site.

It will be built at the site of the former UPM paper mill, which is now owned by GO Lab, a Belfast-based building products manufacturer.

“The Madison mill site has so much potential, and the funding we are delivering to build a biomass waste-to-energy converter will play a key role in its revitalization,” Golden said. “This project will support good jobs, eliminate wood fiber waste from the GO Lab factory and organic waste from nearby farms, and generate carbon-neutral energy for the mill site.”

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