The Tex Tech Industries mill, photographed June 29 in North Monmouth. Residential water wells near the mill have shown high levels of PFAS, officials say. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

MONMOUTH — Alarming levels of so-called “forever chemicals” have been detected in the wells of more than a dozen residents near a textile mill in North Monmouth, prompting town officials to explore expanding the town’s centralized water distribution system.

“People living near the mill had their wells tested positive for PFAS,” said town resident John Hale.

Although Hale’s well tested negative for the harmful contamination, Hale believes the increasing contamination is a cause for worry in a town that is not part of Monmouth’s central water distribution system and relies on wells to fulfill its water needs.

Monmouth resident John Hale at his home June 29 near Tex Tech Industries in North Monmouth. Hale says recent tests showed no PFAS in his well water, but others with property near the mill have experienced high levels of “forever chemicals” in their wells. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

Tex Tech Industries owns the textile mill and funded the recent rounds of sampling and testing. The corporation is involved in textile manufacturing, in which PFAS is a common contaminant. It also manufactures waterproof goods and makes coatings for products, both of which are also related to PFAS.

David Madore, the deputy commissioner of the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, said Tex Tech sampled about 54 residences last year. This year, 26 residences tested above the interim standard. The testing showed PFAS at these sites ranged from 21.8 to 181.49 parts per trillion.

Filtration systems have been installed at the residences and will be monitored to ensure effectiveness, according to officials.


“Additional investigation by Tex Tech into the source of the groundwater impacts is expected to take place this summer,” Madore said. “The additional testing will assist in identifying the potential sources of PFAS contamination in the area.”

PFAS are man-made substances that are often used in consumer products and industrial applications. Persistent in nature, they do not break down, including in the human body, which is why they are known as “forever chemicals.” Long-term exposure to PFAS can have adverse effects on peoples’ health, including cellular changes and damage to the liver, kidneys, thyroid and immune system.

Monmouth resident John Hale fills a glass June 29 with water from the well at his house near Tex Tech Industries in North Monmouth. Hale says recent tests have shown no PFAS in his well water, but others with property near the mill have experienced high levels of “forever chemicals” in their wells. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

In recent years, Mainers have been grappling with the impact of high PFAS levels. It has been found at agricultural sites, drinking water supplies, at landfills and in surface waters. A study released by the Maine DEP showed that as of October 2019, the department had more than 30,000 records for 28 different PFAS at 245 locations across Maine.

Residents in many parts of Maine are concerned about PFAS exposure, including those in Fairfield in Somerset County. Officials first discovered high PFAS levels at a local dairy farm, a result of spreading contaminated sludge on fields, and later at fish ponds and residential wells. These discoveries prompted the state to issue a “do not eat” advisory for deer harvested in the area. The state DEP and town officials are still working to mitigate the damage.

The state now has a standard of 20 parts per trillion for six PFAS, either alone or in combination. After sampling, if the standard is met or exceeded, the results are mandated to be shared with the water system’s customers. Upon exceeding the standards, treatment and other remedies are required to take place.

In 2021, the Maine DEP requested Tex Tech conduct PFAS testing of the groundwater in North Monmouth. PFAS was found in the groundwater, which led to sampling of nearby residences, and contamination was detected in several residential wells.


Tex Tech has helped with the installation of filtration systems at residences and has been providing bottled water to residents with contaminated wells. A spokesperson from Tex Tech declined to comment.

Meanwhile, Monmouth officials are exploring whether the town’s centralized water distribution system can be expanded to North Monmouth. According to a survey done as part of a preliminary study, 51 of the 70 survey respondents in North Monmouth said they supported the extension, while eight were against it.

“The town is working with the water district,” Monmouth Town Manager Justin Poirier said. “We funded a study to see if the water system can be expanded. An engineering study is looking into the feasibility of it.”

The town approached the Monmouth Water Association, a local nonprofit organization, to carry out the engineering study. The organization is also involved in writing grant applications to raise funds for the water project.

“There are many grant opportunities, and we are trying for all of them,” said Joel Balano-Stott, president of the Monmouth Water Association. “Sometimes we apply for them through the town of Monmouth, with the town manager signing off on it, and sometimes our association applies for it with my approval,”

The Tex Tech Industries mill, photographed June 29 in North Monmouth. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

Completed earlier this year, the study concluded the entire project would cost about $7.5 million. Noting the high financial demand, officials are now working to apply for multiple grants.


“It’s hard for us to justify asking people who have not created this pollution problem to pay for a project of this scale,” Selectman Kent Ackley said. “That’s why we are trying to engage possible sources of funding through grants.”

With the aim of hitting the $500,000 mark, after which an engineering company is going to begin the design process, the town is exploring various avenues. As a part of this effort, Ackley said he has asked Tex Tech for a contribution, but he did not receive a response.

Monmouth has also been added to U.S. Sen. Susan Collins’ shortlist for projects that might receive $500,000 in congressional earmarks and could benefit from nationwide legal settlements related to PFAS contamination. Officials are working to apply to other grant options until the end of the year, which is when most grants close application submissions.

“I think the people understand that it is not easy raise $7 million, but they do want to see some progress,” Ackley said. “But I am optimistic that we will figure out a way to get clean water to the residents of North Monmouth, especially those who are stuck with filtration systems.”

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