The Portsmouth Herald reported on Saturday that routine checks of test wells near the Kittery Resource Recovery Facility, known as the town’s landfill or transfer station, by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection showed high levels of contaminants at three well sites. The facility is near the Old Town landfill, which was closed by state order in 1993, and approximately 4 miles from the New Hampshire border.

The state was checking for chemicals called perfluoroalkyls and polyfluoroalkyls, industrial chemicals that end up in public water supplies across the country. They were used in products such as fire-retardant foam, nonstick cookware, fast-food wrappers, and stain-resistant fabrics and carpets, but are no longer used in manufacturing in the United States. Water sampling revealed water contamination around military bases, factories and other sites.

The city and DEP of Maine contacted neighboring homeowners to test their residential wells and gave them bottled water.

Of the results that have come back so far, four residences showed higher PFAS levels in their well systems and three showed elevated arsenic levels, according to the city manager. The city is awaiting results for several properties.

City officials believe the old dump could be the source of the industrial chemicals, but the arsenic may have come from natural bedrock.

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