WASHINGTON – Senate legislation introduced today with strong bipartisan support would classify the fluorinated chemicals known as PFAS as hazardous substances under the Superfund toxics law, an important step toward cleaning up widespread contamination by these compounds across the nation.
The PFAS Action Act of 2019 would require the Environmental Protection Agency within one year to designate PFAS chemicals as hazardous substances under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act, better known as Superfund. This designation triggers requirements to report releases of the chemicals into the environment and cleanup of contaminated sites, and allows the government to sue polluters to recover the costs of cleanup.
The legislation was introduced by Sens. Tom Carper (D-Del.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Gary Peters (R-Mich.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.).
“We applaud this bipartisan group of lawmakers for introducing this critical and timely piece of legislation,” said Scott Faber, EWG’s senior vice president of government affairs. “This proposal could assist potentially hundreds of communities throughout the country struggling with PFAS contamination by securing the resources required to begin the cleanup process and holding polluters accountable.”
“The committed leadership by both Republicans and Democrats in the Senate underscores just how serious this PFAS crisis is throughout the country,” Faber added.
EPA tests have detected PFAS pollution of public water supplies for 16 million Americans in 33 states, but that is considered a severe underestimate of the scope of the problem. EWG and researchers at Northeastern University have tracked 172 PFAS contamination sites in 40 states, and from unreleased data from the EPA tests, EWG estimates that water supplies for as many as 110 million Americans may be contaminated.
An identical version of the Senate bill was introduced in January by a bipartisan group of House members.
The Environmental Working Group is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization that empowers people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment. Through research, advocacy and unique education tools, EWG drives consumer choice and civic action.