Senate passes legislation addressing PFAS contamination

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) today announced Senate passage of her legislation and other measures to address PFAS contamination in Michigan and across the country. These measures passed the Senate as part of the annual National Defense Authorization Act. The House of Representatives is expected to take up its version of the National Defense Authorization Act in the coming weeks and both chambers will then work on a conference agreement.

Contamination from PFAS chemicals, which have been used in firefighting foam and other manufacturing products, is a serious issue affecting drinking water for millions of Americans. A recent study showed that up to 110 million Americans might be drinking PFAS-contaminated water and that Michigan has the most PFAS-contaminated sites in the country. Exposure to PFAS chemicals has been linked to cancer and other diseases.

“PFAS contamination is a growing threat to public health in Michigan,” said Senator Stabenow. “That’s why we are taking the lead to find solutions that will keep our communities safe. Passage of this legislation is an important step forward for Michigan families.” 

The National Defense Authorization Act contains the following provisions championed by Senator Stabenow to address PFAS contamination:

·         Authorizes the U.S. Geological Survey to develop advanced testing methods to detect PFAS in the environment and conduct nationwide sampling for these chemicals, focusing first on areas near drinking water with known or suspected PFAS-contamination. The bill, based on Senator Stabenow’s PFAS Detection Act, authorizes $45 million over five years to carry out these functions. 

·         Sets deadlines and reporting requirements based on Senator Stabenow’s PFAS Accountability Act for creating new or amending existing cooperative agreements with states to cleanup PFAS contamination at active and decommissioned bases and National Guard facilities. In Michigan, these include Wurtsmith Air Force Base, Camp Grayling, Selfridge Air National Guard Base, Alpena Combat Readiness Training Center, and Escanaba Defense Fuel Supply Point. Cooperative agreements commit the federal government to take specific actions and enable states and local communities to be reimbursed for costs incurred to address PFAS contamination. 

·         Requires the Environmental Protection Agency to set a national drinking water standard for PFOA and PFOS within two years and regulate additional PFAS over time. Also adds new drinking water monitoring requirements.

·         Requires manufacturers to publically report, through the EPA’s Toxics Release Inventory, when they release certain PFAS chemicals into our air or water.

·         Authorizes an additional $100 million in funding to help small and disadvantaged communities address PFAS contamination. Requires the Environmental Protection Agency to publish guidance for communities on the disposal of PFAS chemicals.

·         Authorizes funding to continue a health study on the impacts of PFAS in drinking water.

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