Toxics Action Center
Toxics Action Center

Contamination Victims Journey to Capitol Seeking Help from Senate

For Immediate Release: September 25, 2018

Contamination from Per- and Poly-fluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) affects more than 16 million Americans and, as more and more sources of PFAS pollution are revealed, that number is rising. Scientifically linked to harmful diseases in humans such as cancer, these extremely toxic compounds have contaminated: air, ground & surface waters; soils & agricultural products, fish & shellfish; and human beings all across our country and the world. PFAS are difficult to break down and accumulate in the environment and our bodies for years.

Members of the National PFAS Contamination Coalition are heading to the nation’s capital to attend the first Senate hearing on PFAS, “The Federal Role in the Toxic PFAS Chemical Crisis,” scheduled for 2:30PM in the Dirksen Senate Office Building and held by the Senate Committee on Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs’ Subcommittee on Federal Spending Oversight & Emergency Management. This Senate hearing comes on the heels of the September 6th hearing held by the House of Representatives’ Energy & Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on the Environment. Additionally, several EPA Regional PFAS Community Engagement Events were held this summer, and toxicological profiles for PFAS were released by the ATSDR in June.

When asked why they would take the time away from family and work, Coalition members said:

“We can’t undo decades of drinking toxic water or the tax it has taken on veterans and our communities health. But we can do the right thing now, and that means holding polluters accountable and restoring safe drinking water for every community affected,” said Arnie Leriche Community Co-Chair of the Wurtsmith Restoration Advisory Board (RAB), and member of NOW (Need Our Water) in Oscoda, MI, and one of the community leaders testifying at the hearing.

“We want to show that we are real people; we are real families who have been impacted by this widespread contamination,” said Andrea Amico of Testing for Pease in Portsmouth, NH, another impacted resident testifying at the hearing. “We want our government officials to understand what our needs are and what we need from them to help us solve this nation wide problem. It is critical our government prioritize public health by taking swift and meaningful action to help so many exposed to these contaminants.”

“When a disaster happens, you don’t just sit back, let people deal with the aftermaths and hope it doesn’t happen again—you do something about it,” said Cody Angell of Michigan Demands Action Against Contamination based in Belmont, MI. “Everyday Michiganders are waking up to news headlines. Headlines reading about new contaminated sites being found with record-setting levels of PFC’s being found in their lakes, rivers and drinking water. With the world’s largest fresh surface water in our backyard, we should be doing everything we can to protect our most vital resource. Water is Life. ”

“Merrimack is just one of countless communities identified in 40 states and as victims of this chemical crisis. We don’t just bear the pain of our losses and health struggles, but also the cost of bottled water, water filtration systems, medical bills and chronic stress, depression and anxiety,” said Laurene Allen of Merrimack Citizens for Clean Water in Merrimack, NH. She said she traveled to Washington D.C. in order to begin a partnership with Congress to work together for solutions. She added, “We cannot change the past, but I know we have the ability to do better and together we must make America safe again.”

“The U.S. Air Force and the state of Michigan need to fully participate in the remediation of the substances and provide a long-term solution for clean drinking water,” NOW (Need Our Water) member, Cathy Wusterbarth said. “MPART was established to be the main resource for PFAS information, but we’re still having to go to all the agencies separately to obtain current and accurate information.”

“My father and cousins, one a Vietnam veteran, died of kidney cancer and I have a 14-year-old cousin who had to receive a kidney transplant last year,” said Mark Favors of Fountain Valley Clean Water Coalition in Colorado Springs, CO. “Peterson Air Force Base admitted polluting our drinking water for decades. These toxic chemicals are scientifically linked to kidney disorders, cancers, immune response, reproductive disorders, and so much more. We need to stop this contamination crisis now—once and for all!”

“Our pollution sources are all different and unique, yet our needs are the same,” said Kristen Mello of Westfield Residents Advocating for Themselves (WRAFT) in Westfield, MA, who also traveled to DC to call for urgent action in her home state and across the country. “This is a decades-long, slow-motion unfolding, environmental and public health disaster requiring a comprehensive and coordinated response.”

Residents in communities suffering from PFAS contamination need our federal government to respond to the “Toxic PFAS Chemical Crisis” as the emergency it is:

  • providing safe drinking water, medical care and monitoring for victims;
  • ending current PFAS discharges;
  • determining the extent of PFAS contamination by testing blood, surface waters & groundwater, fresh &
    saltwater fish & shellfish, and soils & agricultural products;
  • remediating contamination sites;
  • recovering costs from PFAS polluters; and
  • preventing this from ever happening again.

For more information about the National PFAS Contamination Coalition, visit https://pfasproject.net/

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