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PFAS chemicals found in well water near Kittery landfill

Elevated levels of industrial chemicals and arsenic in well water near a landfill in Kittery.

PORTLAND, Maine — Officials in Kittery have found elevated levels of industrial chemicals and arsenic in well water near the town's landfill.

The Portsmouth Herald reported Saturday that routine checks of test wells near the Kittery Resource Recovery Facility, known as the town dump or transfer station, by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection showed elevated contaminant levels at three well sites. The facility is near the old town landfill, which was closed by state order in 1993 and is located about 4 miles from the New Hampshire border.

The state was checking for chemicals called perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl, also known as PFAS, industrial chemicals turning up in public water supplies around the country. 

They were used in such goods as fire-suppressing foam, nonstick pans, fast-food wrappers, and stain-resistant fabric and carpet, but are no longer used in U.S. manufacturing. Water sampling has found contamination in water around military bases, factories and other sites.

The town and the Maine DEP contacted nearby property owners to test their residential wells and gave them bottled water.

Of the results that have come back so far, four residences showed higher PFAS levels in their well systems and three showed elevated arsenic levels, according to the town manager. The town is awaiting results for several properties.

Town officials think that the old landfill could be the source of the industrial chemicals, but the arsenic may come from the natural bedrock.

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