Class-action lawsuit filed for dangerous chemical levels in Somerset County well water

Fox 23 Maine - Local News
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A class-action lawsuit has been filed for dangerous levels of toxic chemicals found in Somerset County well water.

PFAS have been linked to increased risk of cancers and other health issues.

The class-action lawsuit claims Sappi’s Somerset mill in Skowhegan produced PFAS-treated paper products, which later were turned into fertilizer, and when spread on farms, that got into area well water, putting people at risk.

Catherine and Bruce Harrington say they started noticing the trucks bringing the biowaste years ago to a farm behind their home.

“Everybody said, ‘It’s OK, they’re all set. It has chemicals, so you’re perfectly safe.’” Catherine Harrington said.

A water test a few months ago proved otherwise. The EPA set a health advisory once levels hit 70 parts per trillion. Theirs is around 26,000 parts per trillion.

“We’re angry. We’re scared, because you know, with all these chemicals through us all this time, what’s it going to mean medically for us? And our kids and our grandkids?” Catherine Harrington said.

The Department of Environmental Protection started testing area wells last year.

“The highest one I can think of is around 28,000 parts per trillion. So there’s quite a range,” DEP Bureau of Redemption and Waste Management Director David Burns said.

They’ve found more than 40 wells with elevated levels. They’ve been installing treatment systems to get residents clean water and continue to test well systems.

“That process will continue until we’re comfortable that we’ve identified every impact in that area,” Burns said.

Brian Mahany is an attorney for the class-action lawsuit.

“It’s a forever chemical, folks are going to need to be tested and monitored unfortunately, probably for the rest of their life,” Mahany said.

They’re seeking monetary and punitive damages, along with medical monitoring for those with elevated levels or exposed to the PFAS.

“We want to make sure they get the help that they need going forward, and we want to hold the mill accountable for the damage that has been done,” Mahany said.

CBS13 did contact the company that owns the Somerset mill, Sappi Global, but we have not received a response to the request for comment.