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AG solicits proposals to assist state with legal claims related to PFAS and PCBs
September 20, 2021
AUGUSTA - The Office of the Attorney General (OAG) is soliciting proposals from qualified law firms to assist the State of Maine with potential legal claims involving polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in Maine. PCBs and PFAS are both groups of persistent, man-made chemicals that have been used in a wide variety of industrial and commercial applications and have been detected in environmental samples across Maine.
"There is strong evidence that these chemicals are harmful and threaten Mainers' health and well-being," said Attorney General Aaron M. Frey. "It is important to hold manufacturers of these chemicals accountable for contamination they are responsible for. This is an important first step in that process."
Governor Janet Mills and her administration strongly support efforts to hold manufacturers of these chemicals responsible for damages in Maine.
PCBs were commercially manufactured in the United States from 1929 until production was banned in 1979, and are still found in products manufactured before 1979, such as window caulking, floor finishes, thermal insulation, and electrical equipment. PCBs do not readily break down in the environment and can be taken up by plants such as food crops and bioaccumulate in the food chain. PCBs have been found in fish throughout Maine and at levels high enough to warrant consumption limits for some rivers and streams.
PFAS have been manufactured for use in a wide variety of products since the 1940s, including nonstick cookware, firefighting foam, and textiles. Like PCBs, PFAS persist in the environment and can be taken up by food crops. Although information on the effects of PFAS on human health and the extent of PFAS contamination in Maine continues to emerge, many Maine families and businesses have already been impacted by PFAS discovered in groundwater and soil. In 2020, Governor Mills's PFAS Task Force recommended accelerated PFAS sampling and that the Attorney General consider legal options to address PFAS contamination by responsible parties. Over the next two years, the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) plans to sample approximately 700 additional locations, and in January 2023 will begin receiving reports of PFAS use in products sold in Maine pursuant to a new Maine law.
The DEP and the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (DACF) are fully committed to working with and supporting the Attorney Generals office and its efforts to pursue legal claims involving PCBs and PFAS on behalf of the State. This solicitation for potential legal services is an important step by the Attorney General and the Mills Administration to leverage the PCB and PFAS information already gathered by the State to address these serious public health concerns and hold those responsible accountable.