Congress to weigh bill making PFAS eligible for federal cleanup funding

January 15, 2019

Source: Paula Gardner
Department: MLive

Bipartisan legislation to prompt PFAS cleanup eligibility is the latest attempt among elected officials from Michigan to strengthen the federal approach to the persistent chemicals that threaten drinking water supplies and the environment.

Three Congressional representatives introduced what they re calling the "PFAS Action Act" on Monday, January 14. The bill seeking to list all per- and poly-fluorinated chemicals as hazardous substances.

That move would allow the Environmental Protection Agency to clean contaminated sites under the Superfund program

It also would be a move toward elevating a federal response to the chemicals - which are tied to health concerns like cancer, immune and endocrine disorders, and infertility, along with developmental risks for babies and children - across the entire class of related compounds.

"Michigan has been hit hard by PFAS, said co-author U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell, a Democrat representing the 12th District west of Detroit, in a statement. "..It s been found in our drinking water, air, food, and consumer products. Our bipartisan legislation will list all PFAS as the hazardous chemicals we know they are and give the EPA the tools it needs to clean up contaminated sites."

She s joined in the proposed legislation by U S. Reps. Dan Kildee, a Democrat from the 5th District, and Fred Upton, a Republican from the 6th District. Kildee represents Oscoda, home to the contaminated former Wurtsmith Air Force Base, and Flint, where investigations continue into the spread of PFAS from the former GM Buick City factory site. Upton represents the Parchment community, where state officials closed a municipal water system due to PFAS.

The bill follows a wave of discovery in 2018 in Michigan and other states, as concerns mount over the spread and danger of the chemicals. Two types of PFAS include PFOA and PFOS, for which some states are setting drinking water limits and cleanup standards. Neither remain in use today, but other related chemicals are still used in products like Teflon and stain-resistant products, fire-fighting foam, fast-food wrappers and in industrial uses to control poison fumes.

The proposed legislation "would trigger reporting requirements, enable cleanup of contaminated sites, allow EPA to recover clean-up costs from polluters, and push the EPA and states to move forward on setting remediation levels," said David Andrews, senior scientist at the Environmental Working Group.

The move toward the Superfund classification is a start, Andrews added, saying that other areas also need to be addressed. And while it s not a step toward a legal limit for drinking water, he said, it should indirectly reduce the contamination of tap water in America.

Michigan launched wide-scaled PFAS testing following critical discoveries of the chemicals in Grand Rapids-area water supplies, resulting in dozens of sites where the chemicals are found in either groundwater or surface water. At least two million Michigan residents have some PFAS in their drinking water, and an MLive investigation found that 16 wastewater treatment plants in the state have high enough levels of the contaminants flowing into surface waters from businesses that they face increased scrutiny.

Read the entire article Congress to weigh bill making PFAS eligible for federal cleanup funding.

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