PFAS Exposures Will Continue Under EPA Plan, Communities Warn
Communities affected by toxic drinking water and PFAS exposure agree that EPA PFAS Action Plan does nothing for communities that have been contaminated without consent for decades.
For immediate release: February 14, 2019 1:00pm
Andrea Amico, Testing for Pease (Portsmouth, NH)
Emily Donovan, Clean Cape Fear (Leland, NC)
Loreen Hackett, #PFOAProjectNY (Hoosick Falls, NY)
Kristen Mello, Westfield Residents Advocating for Themselves (Westfield, MA)
Diane Cotter, Your Turnout Gear and PFOA (Ringe, NH)
Philadelphia, PA. — Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced its PFAS Action Plan amidst a flurry of press conferences around the country, and the people impacted by the toxic contamination across the nation are saying it fails to prevent current and future exposure to PFAS in the environment.
PFAS, also known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), are man-made chemicals that are linked to kidney disorders, reproductive cancers, autoimmune disorders and more. The chemicals are estimated to be in the drinking water of at least 110 million Americans.
Local leaders from contaminated communities from across the country, working together through the National PFAS Contamination Coalition, say the plan is woefully inadequate for those that have been suffering from exposure to contamination for decades.
“My family and community in Merrimack, New Hampshire continues to endure active exposure to toxic PFAS substances via air emissions and contaminated water,” said Laurene Allen of Merrimack Citizens for Clean Water. “The EPA has chosen to allow this to continue despite being an EPA-identified contamination site for three years and the known harm of the PFAS chemical class.”
“Comments we heard today such as ‘in process’, ‘committed to’, and ‘very soon’ we have now heard for years,” added Loreen Hackett of #PFOAProjectNY. “Babies are still being born today contaminated from exposed mothers, facing diseases that will last a lifetime. Two decades of information and the solid science, which includes the recent CDC report, absolutely showing lowering risk levels is necessary to be protective of health, isn’t enough to yet set MCLs? It’s insulting to all of us exposed. Woefully inadequate is an understatement.”
“Our efforts began in this issue after the discovery of PFOA used in firefighter turnout gear, we soon learned there are no regulations for textiles. The end user of the Turnout Gear, the first responders, have had no idea of chemical content or amounts used to coat their specialized gear. These PFAS laden textiles are degrading in landfills and make their way to waterways,” said Diane Cotter of Your Turnout Gear and PFOA. “We now maintain a growing list of municipal and rural fire stations that are contaminated with PFOA and PFOS thought to be from AFFF training and storage. We fear we are only seeing the tip of the spear.”
The National PFAS Contamination Coalition envisions a world where people are no longer exposed to PFAS in their drinking water and their environment, where poisoned people’s health is protected, where there is justice for past harms and deaths caused by PFAS and that regulations are in place so that nothing like this happens again. Leaders from impacted communities are calling on the EPA to immediately adopt a national enforceable drinking water standard of 1 part per trillion for combined total concentration of all PFAS that is health protective for infants, children, and vulnerable populations.
“The EPA Plan falls short of meaningful action to help communities that are suffering. It’s unacceptable that they’re only addressing a couple of chemicals, which is not looking at the broad range of the PFAS Class,” said Andrea Amico of Testing for Pease. “The reality is that many communities are exposed to multiple PFAS in their drinking water and the EPA needs to address these compounds as a class to fully address the contamination people are exposed to when they turn on their taps.”
“The hazardous substance designation has been discussed for decades,” said Arnie Leriche of Need Our Water (NOW). “The EPA and Department of Defence must add more money in the budget to adequately address remediation, which will bring help to these communities.”
“While we appreciate the work that went into this document, and the future actions it promises, today’s announcement changes nothing for PFAS victims in Westfield,” said Kristen Mello of Westfield Residents Advocating for Themselves.
“EPA does not propose any substantive actions to prevent the continued production and use of PFAS – in fact, over the last decade, EPA has registered and approved the use of more than 600 new forms of PFAS,” said Laura Olah, Citizens for Safe Water Around Badger. “We cannot stop the flood of PFAS until EPA turns off the tap.”
Linda Almazon from the Environmental Justice Task Force in Arizona states, “We express our strongest opposition to this proposal. It is immoral and unacceptable to Tucsonans, that EPA would put us in such a position, that poses a public health hazard to our residents, particularly our children,. EPA needs to stop putting corporate profits before the health of Americans.”
“Acting EPA Administrator Wheeler’s ‘Announcement of the First-Ever Comprehensive Nationwide PFAS Action Plan’ gets an ‘F’ for failure,” said Sue Phelan of GreenCAPE. “Failure to establish a Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) for PFAS and failure to designate PFAS as a hazardous substance. Failure to define a cleanup strategy. The Plan made no provisions for protecting our communities today. We expected-and deserve-much more from the EPA. Show us the Action Plan!”
“What is the timeline? Where are dates?” asks Hope Grosse, Bucks-Mont People for Clean Water. “PFAS is not safe, why isn’t it being declared a hazardous chemical? This action plan is a disgrace and unacceptable. We will not sit around and wait.”
“Unfortunately, this plan doesn’t do anything for the quarter of a million residents in Southeastern North Carolina who use the Lower Cape Fear River as their primary source of drinking water,” said Emily Donovan of Clean Cape Fear. “99% of Wilmington residents tested have Nafion byproduct 2, a long-chain PFAS with zero available health data or scientific research, in their blood and nothing Trump’s EPA proposed today will address our concerns or fears. DuPont, now Chemours, has proven through decades of irresponsible leadership they are ill-equipped to self regulate. We need Trump’s EPA and our congressional leaders to take a bold stand against morally inept companies like DuPont and Chemours.”
“What about the communities who have been exposed for decades? And what about the thousands of other PFAS chemicals beyond PFOS and PFOA?” asked Mary Jones of Toxics Action Center. “As an ally from the Coalition, the EPA needs to be listening to the communities at the front lines of this public health crisis.”
The National PFAS Contamination Coalition is a network of communities who have been impacted by PFAS contamination, formed to support local community groups responding to pollution in their cities and towns and to work together for national change. PFAS-impacted communities should request to join the Coalition at pfasproject.net/join
Additional Media Contacts:
Laurene Allen, Merrimack Citizens for Safe Water (Merrimack, NH)
Laura Olah, Executive Director, Citizens for Safe Water Around Badger (Merrimac, WI)
Sue Phelan, GreenCAPE (West Barnstable, MA)
Hope Grosse, Bucks-Mont People for Clean Water (Warminster, PA)
Linda Robles, Environmental Justice Task Force (Tucson, AZ)
Arnie Leriche, Need Our Water Now (Oscoda, MI)