WILTON — Wilton is moving forward with plans to address Maine’s new bill on perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl (PFAS) substances.

Wilton Water and Wastewater Superintendent Heinz Grossman told the Select Board at the Tuesday, May 17, meeting that he has ordered steel piping that will be used to pump out the sludge produced at the town’s wastewater treatment plant.

With supply chain issues still at play, Grossman said he hopes to receive the piping by the end of June, finish installing it in July in order to meet the August deadline.

Once the sludge is pumped, the plan is to send Wilton’s sludge to a processing facility in Madison “if they’ll take it,” Grossman said in a phone interview.

Grossman previously told the board it could cost residents who use Wilton’s wastewater facility a collective $160,000 a year to send the sludge to a processing facility.

The town does have an ability to purchase equipment to process, thicken the sludge. But Grossman told the board he is “hesitant” to move forward with that route because it is a big investment that would affect the town’s transfer station and waste management department.


If the Madison facility is unable to accept the sludge, then the town will “sit on it” for the time being, Grossman said on the phone.

Prior to the legislation, Wilton was turning the treatment plant’s sludge into a compost that was offered to local residents and businesses.

The Select Board and Grossman had previously expressed concerns with what would become the final format of the bill because it did away with a minimum threshold that the town’s wastewater sludge would have been below.

The Select Board voted Tuesday, March 1, to send a letter to Gov. Janet Mills expressing concerns about the financial impact of the bill, what prohibition of sludge composting without thresholds would mean for the town.

Previously, the Maine Department of Environmental Protection had issued PFAS screening levels with a limit at which point remedial action would need to be taken. The three PFAS compounds did not pass that threshold, according to test results conducted in January for Wilton’s wastewater treatment plant acquired by the Franklin Journal.

With the implementation of LD 1911, “An Act To Prevent the Further Contamination of the Soils and Waters of the State with So-called Forever Chemicals,” use of any sludge from wastewater treatment plants is prohibited.


When asked about the numbers at the meeting, Grossman said “they’re below, but honestly … all people care about is if [PFAS contaminants are] in there … it’s an optics thing too.”

“There’s a whole lot of unknown,” Grossman said. “Everybody in Augusta, they do know that this is dropping the hammer on all of Maine rather quickly.”

“Every day I come in, I get one question answered and two more are raised,” he added.


LD 1911 was passed April 20 by Gov. Janet Mills to, in part, prohibit the application, spreading or sale of:

• “Sludge generated from a municipal, commercial or industrial wastewater treatment plant.”


• “Compost material that included in its production sludge generated from a municipal, commercial or industrial wastewater treatment plant or septage.”

• “Any other product or material that is intended for use as a fertilizer, soil amendment, topsoil replacement or mulch or for other similar agricultural purpose that is derived from or contains sludge generated from a municipal, commercial or industrial wastewater treatment plant or septage.”

The Press Herald reports that “the bill … gradually phase[s] out the sale, distribution and use of pesticides with intentionally added per- or polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, chemical compounds linked to significant human health risks, including cancer, that have been detected at high levels in Maine farming communities.”

Livermore Falls Advertiser’s Pam Harnden reports that in the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s, Franklin County towns were licensed to spread sewage sludge on agricultural fields as an alternative to fertilizer. In Wilton, sludge from the town’s wastewater facility was previously processed into compost, which residents could use on their land.

PFAS are found in a variety of consumer goods and waste sludge, and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry says they have been linked in federal studies to health problems including thyroid disease, liver problems and organ cancers. Research has found that levels of PFAS chemicals have also been found in freshwater fish and shellfish that could make them hazardous for consumption, according to the Press Herald.

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