|Posted:||December 16, 2020 10:33 AM|
|From:||Senator Maria Collett|
|To:||All Senate members|
|Subject:||Pennsylvania PFAS Classification and Cleanup|
I am introducing legislation amending the Hazardous Sites Cleanup Act (HSCA) to protect communities from the dangers associated with contamination from the release of unregulated per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), including perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA), and perfluorohexane sulfonic acid (PFHxS). This legislation was introduced as SB 582 in the previous session with Senators Hughes, Santarsiero, Farnese, Fontana, Costa, Dinniman, Muth, Tartaglione, Haywood, Kearney, Iovino and A. Williams as sponsors.
For far too long, Pennsylvania’s taxpayers have been suffering all of the economic, health and environmental damage from these dangerous chemicals and bearing the brunt of the cost to address them. This legislation would designate these substances, their equivalents, and any chemical substance or compound designated by executive order that poses a threat to public health and safety or the environment, as a “hazardous substance” under HSCA, triggering the ability to seek legal recourse to fully recoup remediation costs from the responsible party or parties – ensuring that those who made the mess are the ones paying to clean it up.
Decades after the United States Navy and Air National Guard used PFAS-containing firefighting foams on three former bases (the Willow Grove Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base and Horsham Air Guard Station in Horsham, and the Naval Air Warfare Center in Warminster) in Montgomery and Bucks counties, these chemicals have turned up in highly elevated levels in public and private water wells in a number of communities I represent. The primary affected areas are in Horsham, Warminster, and Warrington Townships, but recent findings suggest the contamination has spread to at least 22 additional municipalities. Since the initial discovery of these chemicals in 2014, municipal authorities have been forced to close public and private wells and purchase uncontaminated water at a steep premium to residents – innocent victims whose health and safety have been compromised at no fault of their own. A growing body of science has established associations between PFAS and a range of negative health effects, including infertility, high cholesterol, and a variety of cancers. In December of 2018, the Federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) released the results of an initial blood test pilot study of impacted residents which indicated significantly higher PFOS, PFOA, PFNA, and PFHxS levels compared to the rest of the nation. The residents in these communities deserve clean, safe drinking water, and we must do everything necessary to defend their Article 1 Section 27 Commonwealth constitutional rights.
While the Department of Defense (DOD), U.S. Navy, and Air National Guard have agreed to provide for some cleanup of the water contamination impacting these local communities, their efforts and legal obligations are limited. A January 2020 federal court ruling in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania specifically dismissed a PFAS exposure medical monitoring suit against the U.S. Navy because, even though these chemicals are clearly hazardous under any definition, neither the federal EPA nor our Department of Health had “designated” them as “hazardous substances” under HSCA. The judge ruled that meeting the “definition” wasn’t good enough; we need a “designation”. This barrier to individuals, municipalities and indeed our Commonwealth recouping our losses from the polluters must be lifted.
I hope you join me in cosponsoring this crucial legislation. If you have any questions about this legislation, please contact my Legislative Director at Tom.Holroyd@pasenate.com