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Connecticut The Latest New England State To Face The PFAS Problem

Firefighting foam after it spilled into the Farmington River on June 9, 2019.
Connecticut Dept. of Energy and Environmental Protection
Firefighting foam after it spilled into the Farmington River on June 9, 2019.

In our review of the week's news, Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont announced he's forming a task force to look into PFAS chemicals, which are found in firefighting foam and are tied to serious health problems. 

An accidental spill of the foam in June near Bradley International Airport ended up polluting the Farmington River.

Lamont admitted he wasn't the biggest expert on the chemicals.

“Truth be told, I'm pretty new to the threat for PFAS substances,” he told reporters this week.

Panelist Susan Bigelow said it’s not surprising that PFAS has not been on the radar in Connecticut.

“A lot of these spill incidents — where PFAS has gotten into the groundwater, or has gotten into the river and contaminated the fish that people eat — it hasn’t happened as much in Connecticut,” she said. “This is more of a northern New England, and also Westfield, actually, sort of situation.”

But Bigelow said it’s reasonable to imagine officials should have known more about PFAS in advance of the spill, given the studies linking the chemical to health effects.

“Hopefully, we can actually learn from our neighbors, and find out what they’re doing to combat PFAS and to make the water a little bit safer,” she said.

In Westfield, Massachusetts, several wells were contaminated with PFAS. The city has spent millions of dollars on filtration plants, and filed a federal lawsuit against the makers of firefighting foam.

“I think that anytime that you have anywhere in the region this kind of spill, everybody else should be paying attention,” said panelist Mike Dobbs. “I think that between what happened in Connecticut, and what has happened in Westfield, every other community might want to review how this material is handled.”

On Beacon Hill, there are rumblings that House lawmakers are working on a transportation spending bill. The MBTA has suffered several problems and incidents in recent months — but some western Massachusetts lawmakers are concerned new legislation might focus too much on the T, with residents in their districts having to foot the bill.

There's also a bill in the Massachusetts legislature that would form a commission to look into the decline of local journalism. It currently doesn't include any representation from the western part of the state. The bill's sponsor, Rep. Lori Erlich, said that's something she'll look into changing. 

At the MGM Springfield casino, a Starbucks closed, and the opening of a Wahlburgers restaurant was delayed a year. Dobbs wrote a column about how MGM needs to focus more on drawing people to the region, especially with the opening of the Boston-area casino. 


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Adam joined NEPM as a freelance reporter and fill-in operations assistant during the summer of 2011. For more than 15 years, Adam has had a number stops throughout his broadcast career, including as a news reporter and anchor, sports host and play-by-play announcer as well as a producer and technician.
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