Rep. Pluecker introduces bill to help farmers, homeowners affected by forever chemical property devastation

Wed, 03/17/2021 - 5:00pm

AUGUSTA — State Representative Bill Pluecker (I-Warren) introduced LD 363, “An Act Regarding the Statute of Limitations for Injuries or Harm Resulting from Perfluoroalkyl and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS)” to the Legislature’s Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, March 17. 

This proposal would allow those that are impacted by PFAS contamination the ability to take legal action within six years of discovery of PFAs pollution, instead of six years after the pollution originally occurred.

“PFAS are persistent chemicals that do not break down and can remain both in the human body and in the environment for years. They are called ‘forever chemicals’ for a reason,” testimony at the public hearing noted. “We are exposed to these toxic chemicals in a variety of products including food packaging, cooking supplies, clothing and furniture. PFAS have been linked to interference with normal brain development in children, diminish response to vaccines and harm the immune system, may increase the risk of some cancers, may lower a woman’s chance of getting pregnant, and have been associated with liver problems and increased cholesterol levels.”

Two recent cases of PFAS contaminations have been found at farms in Arundel and Fairfield who spread a liquid fertilizer laden with these forever chemicals, which was only found after being discovered in the cow’s milk, per a news release.

The PFAS chemical has then leached into the groundwater of nearby neighbors drinking wells, the release noted. 

Health science is currently considering the health effects of PFAS exposure which have so far included increased cholesterol levels, increased risk of thyroid disease, decreased fertility, increased risk of high blood pressure in women, lower infant birth weights, and increased risk of kidney and testicular cancer.

“Passage of this bill is essential to ensuring that whoever created this mess will be responsible to pay to clean it up,” said Pluecker. “Farmers and other impacted communities deserve the opportunity to seek justice for the harm done to themselves and their families.”

Thirty-seven other states already have similar discovery rules in place that allow cases to proceed on the basis on when the pollution was discovered.

This bill was supported by Democrat, Republican and Independent legislators at the public hearing, and many individuals who have lost their farms and others who have lost the ability to drink from their own wells.

The Judiciary Committee will next schedule a work session to decide on the outcome of this bill.

Pluecker is serving his second term in Augusta and is serving on the Agriculture, Conservation & Forestry Committee, as well as the Criminal Justice & Public Safety Committee.

The bill is co-sponsored by Senator Stacy Brenner of Cumberland, Senator Anne Carney of Cumberland, Senator Chloe Maxmin of Lincoln and Representative Margaret O’Neil of Saco.