“Forever Chemicals” found in fish ponds at Fairfield Industrial Road; the city advises against consumption


FAIRFIELD – After the Maine Department of Environmental Protection discovered high levels of “permanent chemicals” known as PFAS in the Industrial Road fish ponds in Fairfield, the city recommends that people do not eat the fish from these ponds.

PFAS – short for per- and polyfluoroalkylated substances – are chemicals used in a variety of consumer products, including clothing, food packaging, and fire-fighting foams. They have been linked to many health problems. The substances do not break down in the environment or in the body; therefore, they are sometimes referred to as “forever chemicals”.

Fairfield City Manager Michelle Flewelling said a development project in the area required DEP clearance and inspection, drawing the ministry’s attention to the location.

The area was a state licensed sludge application site. Sludge consists of solids from treated wastewater that may come from municipal or industrial sources, and is believed to be related to PFAS contamination in the Fairfield area.

DEP tested nearby fish ponds and found high concentrations of PFAS, according to David Madore, deputy commissioner and director of communications for the state agency.

Children 15 and under can fish without a license and have previously been allowed to catch and catch two fish. The ponds are stocked with fish in the spring and fall by the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries.

The department has caught some of the fish from the ponds and is awaiting test results, Madore said.

Meanwhile, fall seeding of the ponds has been suspended, Flewelling said. The plan is to continue to allow fishing, but only on a catch and release basis. The city is working with state agencies to develop new signs to communicate the change. Once these are installed, the ponds will be stocked again.

“The educational opportunity to learn to fish still exists,” said Flewelling.

The fish pond testing is part of an ongoing DEP investigation into PFAS contamination in the Fairfield area.

Much of DEP’s investigation focused on the contamination of residential well water. In total, the department tested 411 water supplies and found 191 with PFAS levels above the state’s legal limit of 20 parts per trillion for drinking water, according to Madore.

Since July, the department has tested locations in Fairfield, along Six Rod Road, Oakland Road, Davis Road, Norridgewock Road, Ridge Road, Green Road and Middle Road; in Oakland, along Six Rod Road and Oakland Road; and in Benton, along the River Road.

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