Nov 08, 2019

Somerset County Wastewater Treatment Plant Accepts Potentially Contaminated Runoff

A wastewater treatment plant in Somerset County, N.J. accepted more than 250,000 gal of runoff from a New Hampshire landfill potentially contaminated with per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).

Somerset County Wastewater Treatment Plant Accepts Potentially Contaminated Runoff

A wastewater treatment plant in Somerset County, N.J. that discharges into the Kennebec River accepted more than 250,000 gal of runoff from a landfill that was potentially contaminated with per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).

These chemicals could be seeping into rivers, streams and groundwater in Maine and elsewhere, according to Portland Press Herald

“Discharging PFAS contaminated leachate into a wastewater treatment system without continuous monitoring and strict pollution controls is asking for trouble,” said Tim Whitehouse, executive director of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility in a statement. “What’s happening is one company is simply dumping an expensive and dangerous problem on someone else’s lap, in this case the people in Madison and surrounding communities.”

Turnkey Landfill in Rochester, N.H., shipped its wastewater to the Lowell Regional Wastewater Utility in Massachusetts and to Anson-Madison Sanitary District in Somerset County, according to a report published in the Boston Globe. Sep. 2018 tests showed levels as high as 9,700 ppt for some types of PFAS.

The Anson-Madison Sanitary District received 152,000 gal of wastewater from Turnkey in Dec. 2018 and 104,000 gal in Jan. 2019, according to the Maine DEP.

The New Hampshire landfill and the Madison treatment plant were operating within the bounds of their permits, neither of which require monitoring for PFAS, reported Union Leader.

Lowell plant has since terminated its contract with the Rochester landfill.

Maine’s PFAS Task Force is examining the extent of contamination in the state and looking towards next steps to mitigate the issue. Treatment plants in Maine that turn sludge into fertilizer have been under mandatory testing for PFAS for months, according to Portland Press Herald.

The contamination has Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) officials questioning whether to require additional monitoring for PFAS in Madison and other treatment plants. Wastewater treatment plants that do not turn sludge into biosolids are not currently required to test for PFAS.

"We are evaluating that internally at this point and haven't come to any conclusions," said David Burns, director of the DEP's Bureau of Remediation and Waste Management.

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