In response to reports nationwide regarding the prevalence of chemicals known as PFAS, earlier this week I signed an Executive Order creating a Governor’s Task Force to mobilize state agencies and other stakeholders to review the prevalence of PFAS in Maine and to put forward a plan to address these dangerous chemicals.
Good morning, I am Governor Janet Mills. Thank you for listening.
While PFAS was once a common chemical used in products ranging from clothing to cookware, scientific studies reveal that these chemicals could pose a danger to the health of people, which is why it has been phased out of use over the past several decades. But because of its frequent use since the 1950s, contaminated sites have been identified across the country, including some here in Maine.
Traces of PFAS have been detected at the former Brunswick Naval Air Station and the former Loring Air Force Base for instance, and they’re working to determine just the extent of PFAS in the surrounding environment.
This should not be a cause for alarm, but it is important for the state to identify any locations in Maine where PFAS are prevalent and to examine their effects on drinking water supplies, freshwater fish and marine resources; and to take steps to create and implement treatment and disposal options.
Back in May, 2016 when the hazards of these chemicals first became evident, the federal EPA actually issued a drinking water Health Advisory for PFAS. But, when the EPA released its Action Plan last month it failed to include any commitment to setting a drinking water standard for those chemicals and, instead, it simply delayed evaluating that issue for at least another year. That’s disappointing. As a result, there is Congressional action pending and other states such as New Hampshire are taking steps to create drinking water standards relating to PFAS on their own. Now Maine is following suit.
The Task Force established by my Executive Order will be chaired by a public health expert who will mobilize state government and experts across Maine to ensure that we all have accurate information about this issue and that we have the tools we need to address it.
This Task Force will include the Commissioners of the Departments of Environmental Protection (DEP); Health and Human Services (DHHS); Agriculture Conservation and Forestry (DACF); and Defense, Veterans and Emergency Management in addition to other nonprofit and industry experts.
The Task Force will issue a report to my office with findings and recommendations to address PFAS exposure and contamination in Maine.
My Administration will move swiftly to address this public health concern, but while the Task Force begins its work, I invite any individual or organization who may be concerned about PFAS or who is seeking additional information to call the Maine Department of Environmental Protection at 207–215–1894.
I am Janet Mills, Governor of the State of Maine, and I thank you for listening.