June 29, 2018

Following Regional EPA Summit on PFAS in New Hampshire, Senators Hassan and Shaheen Call on EPA to Take Immediate Action to Protect Granite Staters from Further Contamination

Senators: “It is critical for the EPA to take immediate action to protect citizens from further contamination and ensure that responsible parties are held liable for addressing any resulting health and safety concerns.”

WASHINGTON – Senators Maggie Hassan and Jeanne Shaheen today called on Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt to take immediate action to protect Granite Staters from further contamination from polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in drinking water. The letter comes following the inaugural PFAS community engagement event in Exeter, New Hampshire earlier this week.

The senators urged the EPA to take the concerns and recommendations that were raised by community leaders at the summit and take immediate action to prevent exposure to further contamination from these emerging contaminants.

“We are hopeful that the EPA will take the concerns and recommendations that were raised by community leaders, as well as state and local officials, to help inform future meaningful federal action on these chemicals,” the senators wrote. “It is critical for the EPA to take immediate action to protect citizens from further contamination and ensure that responsible parties are held liable for addressing any resulting health and safety concerns.”

Specifically, the senators called on the EPA to evaluate the necessary steps to designate PFAS as ‘hazardous substances,’ which would make PFAS covered under the EPA’s Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) Section 102, and require responsible parties to be held accountable for any future release.

“As EPA staff travels to other communities impacted by PFAS contamination, we encourage the agency to continue listening, and to not lose sight of the urgent need to move forward in protecting our citizens and our natural resources from these toxic chemicals,” the senators concluded.

Senator Hassan has long fought to ensure that all Granite Staters and Americans have access to clean drinking water. Recently, Senator Hassan called on the Trump Administration to stop blocking the release of an important study about the health impacts of PFAS and led the rest of the New Hampshire Congressional Delegation in calling on EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt to immediately release the study. Senator Hassan has also co-sponsored legislation that would require the EPA to set federal safety guidelines for PFAS and to establish maximum contaminant levels for certain chemicals to help clarify the safety and quality of drinking water from public water systems throughout the country. The Senator also cosponsored the Safe Drinking Water Assistance Act, which creates an interagency task force to improve federal coordination on emerging contaminants and directs the Office of Science and Technology Policy to develop a federal research strategy to improve identification, analysis, and treatment methods for contaminants. Senator Hassan also helped secure funding for the first nationwide PFAS water contamination study in the bipartisan omnibus funding bill that passed earlier this year, and joined the Congressional Delegation in sending a letter to ATSDR urging them to include Pease in the nationwide health study and exposure assessment.  

Senator Shaheen has led efforts in Congress to uncover the potential health impact of emerging contaminants in water supplies, and in the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), established the first-ever nationwide health study on the impacts of PFAS chemicals in drinking water, as well as funding for the study in the omnibus government spending bill that was signed into law in March. Last month, Shaheen announced that the Pease International Tradeport will serve as the model site for the nationwide PFAS health study. In the annual defense bill passed by the Senate earlier this month, Shaheen successfully authorized $10 million for the second year of the study. Yesterday, Shaheen took a step forward to obtain those federal dollars by successfully securing that funding in a defense appropriations bill that passed the Committee and will next be considered by the full Senate. Shaheen also procured $105 million in yesterday’s appropriations bill for PFAS remediation in contaminated drinking water supplies across the nation.

 

See below for the full text of the letter or click HERE.

 

June 29, 2018

 

The Honorable Scott Pruitt

Administrator

Environmental Protection Agency

1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

Washington, DC 20460

Dear Administrator Pruitt:

We write today to thank the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for hosting the first per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) community engagement event in Exeter, New Hampshire.

Granite Staters have been national leaders in advocating for the health and safety of their families and neighbors, and this productive forum was an important first step in ensuring that communities impacted by PFAS contamination have a seat at the table and an opportunity for their voices to be heard.  We are hopeful that the EPA will take the concerns and recommendations that were raised by community leaders, as well as state and local officials, to help inform future meaningful federal action on these chemicals. This includes advancing conversations and solutions that consider the entire class of PFAS chemicals. 

As you know, PFAS contamination in drinking water is an issue not only in our home state of New Hampshire, but across the country.  It is critical for the EPA to take immediate action to protect citizens from further contamination and ensure that responsible parties are held liable for addressing any resulting health and safety concerns. 

In order to address this problem, the EPA has said it is “beginning the necessary steps to propose designating PFOA and PFOS as ‘hazardous substances’ through one of the available statutory mechanisms, including potentially Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) Section 102.” By doing so, PFAS will be covered under the EPA’s CERCLA, and therefore require responsible parties to be held accountable for any future release. It is appropriate that the EPA evaluates the necessary steps for such a designation, which has support throughout communities affected by PFAS contamination, and we respectfully request additional information about the steps and timeline the EPA is taking to consider this proposal.  

As EPA staff travels to other communities impacted by PFAS contamination, we encourage the agency to continue listening, and to not lose sight of the urgent need to move forward in protecting our citizens and our natural resources from these toxic chemicals. Hosting similar events in other regions of the country is important, but we hope that the agency will take action to address PFAS concurrently with future engagement events instead of waiting until they are all completed.

Thank you for your attention to this matter. We look forward to hearing more about what next steps the EPA will take to protect New Hampshire and our country from PFAS contamination. 

Sincerely,

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