Legislation Introduced to Designate PFAS as Hazardous Substances

(March 5, 2019) - Bipartisan legislation has been introduced in both the Senate and House of Representatives that requires the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to designate per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) as hazardous substances under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA).

The Senate and House companion bills are a legislative push for EPA to act quickly to designate these substances within one year of the bill's enactment.

This legislation is more comprehensive and aggressive that EPA’s recent PFAS Action Plan released last month, because it would list all 3,000+ PFAS chemicals as hazardous substances under CERCLA.

EPA has already started the rulemaking development process to list two of the most prominent PFAS constituents, PFOA and PFOS, as hazardous substances under CERCLA, and the Action Plan indicates that this effort is mostly a mechanism for states and communities to leverage additional funding to address existing contamination and bolster the ability to hold parties accountable.

However, NACWA is concerned about the unintended consequences associated with a broad CERCLA designation, and the potential liability for land applying biosolids that may contain trace amounts of PFAS. 

The designation of PFOA/PFOS is one step in EPA’s Action Plan to address public health and environmental concerns of PFAS contamination. EPA will also begin the regulatory process this year to evaluate the need for a maximum contaminant level (MCL) for PFOA/PFOS. The Agency is also looking at groundwater clean recommendations and developing toxicity values for other known PFAS constituents—GenX and PFBS.

NACWA is closely focused on in its advocacy with both EPA and Congress regarding PFAS concerns, and will continue to keep members updated as the legislative and regulatory process unfolds. In the meantime, please contact Emily Remmel, NACWA’s Director of Regulatory Affairs, or Jason Isakovic, NACWA’s Director of Legislative Affairs, with any questions.