In a recent email from the Water Environment Federation (WEF) members were asked to vote against two amendments that concerned an up and coming issue, Per and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS).
For those unaware of what these substances are, they include the general items listed in the graphic to the left. In general chemicals that make things slick or water resistant, firefighting chemicals, etc. contain these “forever chemicals”. They are considered carcinogenic.
“Perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, are dangerous byproducts of industrial waste and household chemicals – non-stick Teflon coating, firefighting foams, carpeting, and fast food wrappers being some of the major catalysts for these carcinogenic compounds.”
Now, the water and wastewater industries are coming under increased scrutiny and are being blamed again for these chemicals that we receive but do not generate. Nonetheless, there is real concern for the future of the current biosolids disposal systems that are in place around the country. All beneficial use may be in danger and our industry may be required to clean up any locations where we have disposed of the biosolids because of the presence of PFAS. The complete WEF email notification has been included.
The Water and Environment Association of Utah is sponsored an all-day seminar on January 15, to discuss these matters. Please consider exploring them and speaking up, because your voice matters.
Email from WEF:
Ask Your House Member
to Vote Against Two Concerning PFAS Amendments
Washington, DC, July 10, 2019 – UPDATE: Thanks to everyone who contacted Congress in opposition to the Dingell PFAS amendment. Unfortunately, it was ruled in order by the Rules Committee and will be on the House Floor for a vote sometime this week. Additionally, another PFAS amendment was ruled in order and it’s equally problematic for the wastewater and drinking water sectors. Please send another letter to your Member of Congress opposing the new amendment and Dingell amendment.
In recent months the issue of per and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in water has become an area of interest on Capitol Hill and many states. PFAS are a class of roughly 5,000 man-made chemicals of which only a handful have been studied. PFAS chemicals are used in a wide array of consumer products such as non-stick cookware, firefighting foam, and water-repellent clothes. These chemicals may not breakdown in the natural environment and can be inhaled, consumed, or absorbed by humans. Some PFAS chemicals are toxic at levels of a few drops in an Olympic size swimming pool.
The Senate has incorporated a number of PFAS requirements in S. 1790, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). It would mandate that EPA issue national regulations for two PFAS compounds: perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) within two years of enactment. It has a number of other mandates related to drinking and wastewater water as well, but avoided including PFAS regulation under the Clean Water Act (CWA) or CERCLA law, a.k.a. Superfund.
The House is considering the annual NDAA with some defense-related PFAS provisions. However, an amendment (# pending) by Representative Debbie Dingell (D-MI) would mandate additional PFAS regulation for water under CERCLA. This has the potential to be very problematic for wastewater utilities. Biosolid management in particular could be made subject to the Superfund law, which could place PFAS remediation costs on utilities and ratepayers. PFAS industrial producers and industrial users should be responsible for remediating it in our environment, but CERCLA’s strict and retroactive liability requirements could place the burden on PFAS “receivers”, such as wastewater and drinking
Additionally, amendment #48 by Representative Chris Pappas (D-NH) would mandate the EPA to develop effluent standards and pretreatment standards for PFAS under the Clean Water Act by January 1, 2022. With limited research into the health effects of the 5,000 PFAS compounds and no established analytical methods and treatment methods for wastewater effluent, this amendment is bad policy.
Furthermore, congressional committee staff has determined under the Representative Pappas amendment the CERCLA law would also be triggered because PFAS would be designated a hazardous substance under the CWA.
WEF is requesting that members contact their Members of Congress to request that the Representative Dingell amendment and Representative Pappas amendment #48 be voted against and excluded from the NDAA. Please send a letter to your member of Congress today because the bill will be on the House floor this week.”