Portland, Maine, Water District joins wastewater class action lawsuit against PFAS manufacturers

June 6, 2024
The Portland, Maine, Water District has joined a class action lawsuit against PFAS manufacturers to hold them accountable for pollution.

The Portland Water District (PWD) filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court against manufacturers of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) chemicals 3M, DuPont and others.

The suit seeks to recover costs associated with PFAS mitigation in wastewater treatment, including treatment byproducts, effluent and biosolids.

“Protecting public health, safety and the environment is PWD’s top priority. By taking legal action against manufacturers of PFAS, PWD is holding accountable those responsible for pollution,” said PWD’s General Manager Seth Garrison in a press release.

PFAS are persistent, toxic and bioaccumulative compounds that are found in numerous products. They have been found virtually everywhere in the environment. PFAS contamination impacts both surface water (lakes, rivers, oceans, etc.) and groundwater, as well as soils and living organisms. The widespread presence of PFAS in consumer and commercial products means PFAS is present in landfills and wastewater treatment systems.

Even though there is no measurable PFAS in Greater Portland’s drinking water, it has been found in wastewater. PWD’s four treatment facilities show 15-32 parts per trillion (ppt) of PFAS in the effluent.

In response to PFAS contamination, Maine became the first and only state in the nation to end the beneficial use (land application) of wastewater biosolids, which created a series of challenges for Maine’s wastewater systems and produced landfill capacity problems. As a result, PWD has taken a proactive approach to finding solutions for biosolids management, including commissioning a Biosolids Master Plan to examine steps to manage PFAS-containing biosolids.

In collaboration with a team of law firms, SL Environmental Law Group is handling PWD’s case along with several other wastewater systems across the country.

PWD is also a claimant in a federal multi-district case related to water utilities and PFAS contamination. Because PWD has no measurable PFAS in drinking water, it is designated as a Class 2 claimant and reimbursement will be limited to covering the costs of the extra testing that has been required.

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