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Alaska utility suspends compost sales due to contaminants

June 3, 2019

FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) — An Alaska utility company suspended sales of its compost due to contaminants, officials said.

Golden Heart Utilities in Fairbanks said Thursday that perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, were detected in compost stockpiles, The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported Thursday.

The Environmental Protection Agency’s website describes PFAS as “man-made chemicals” that can lead to “adverse human health effects.”

Golden Heart produces recycled compost using biosolids from wastewater processed by the plant and sells it to farmers and gardeners, officials said.

The contaminants likely entered the facility through the sewer system, said Golden Heart Utilities Vice President Tiffany Van Horn.

“It’s not coming from within the plant,” Van Horn said. “We don’t add PFAS during our process.”

While there is no official guidance on safe levels of PFAS in compost, the company said it would be cautious.

“The utility continues to believe in the benefits of biosolid recycling,” the company said in a published statement.

The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation said Thursday it agreed with the utility’s decision to discontinue its compost operation.

In the Fairbanks area, PFAS levels above state pollution standards contaminated 283 private drinking water wells as of this spring, the newspaper reported.

Much of the contamination in Alaska was caused by firefighting foams used at airports and fire training sites, officials said.

The EPA has a health-advisory level of 70 parts per trillion — about three drops in an Olympic-size pool — for PFAS.

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Information from: Fairbanks (Alaska) Daily News-Miner, http://www.newsminer.com

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