Clean Water Current

NACWA Expresses Concern with Proposed Massachusetts PFAS Law

Feb 24, 2022

NACWA submitted written testimony on February 18 to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’s Joint Committee on State Administration and Regulatory Oversight opposing Senate Bill 2655, An Act Establishing a Moratorium on the Procurement of Structures or Activities Generating PFAS Emissions.

As written, the legislation proposes a moratorium on both the procurement of new structures and engagement in activities that may generate PFAS in air emissions, as well as a pause on any new use or modification of an existing use or structure that may also generate air emissions containing PFAS. This moratorium would stay in place until both U.S. EPA and the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection have codified pollution emission standards under federal and state law – which could be many years, if not longer.

NACWA has serious concerns that this legislation, as currently drafted, will prevent any modifications that might be necessary to improve operations at existing POTWs using sewage sludge incinerators (SSIs) within Massachusetts. It could also cause other detrimental impacts to municipal clean water utilities in Massachusetts if signed into law, as well as encourage other states to draft similarly harmful legislation.

The legislation is broader than the intended target of prohibiting a specific gasification project from moving forward in Taunton, Massachusetts. Essentially, the legislation bans modifications on currently operational incinerators and/or stymies future innovative thermal technologies, like gasification or pyrolysis units.

If signed into law, the bill will only limit an already narrowing field of biosolids management options and further play a role in a potentially untenable situation where wastewater systems have no environmentally or economically viable way to manage the tons of biosolids residuals generated from the wastewater they receive.

If NACWA members are seeing similar legislation in their states or have questions on the written testimony submitted to Massachusetts, please contact Emily Remmel, NACWA’s Director of Regulatory Affairs. NACWA is also happy to provide testimony on similarly problematic PFAS legislative proposals in other states.  

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