Historic First Steps Towards Congressional Action on PFAS

Clean Cape Fear Encouraged By U.S. House of Representatives' Historic Passage of PFAS Amendments To National Defense Spending Bill

WILMINGTON, North Carolina – July 13, 2019

Yesterday, the House passed their version of the FY2020 defense spending bill. It included some major PFAS cleanup amendments designed to protect military families and the communities who house them—a lot of these amendments will also benefit Wilmington area residents suffering from Chemours/DuPont’s PFAS contamination crisis. 

The amendments passed using a voice vote—meaning there is no way to clearly know how Representatives David Rouzer and Richard Hudson voted. 

Clean Cape Fear spent the last two months encouraging Rep. Rouzer and Rep. Hudson to support all PFAS amendments submitted to H.R. 2500--the FY2020 National Defense Authorization Act. 

“We traveled to DC, sent emails, and asked the community to make phone calls to Rep. Rouzer and Rep. Hudson’s offices,” states Emily Donovan, co-founder of Clean Cape Fear. “It’s a historic time in DC right now for PFAS regulations. Congress has finally awakened to the public health crisis PFAS chemicals--like GenX, Nafion Byproduct 2, PFOS and PFOA, pose to innocent communities like ours.”

The package of amendments the House passed Friday afternoon will:

  • Phase out military use of PFAS in firefighting foam by 2025.

  • End the use of PFAS in military food packaging.

  • Expand water quality monitoring of PFAS.

  • Ensure proper incineration of military PFAS wastes.

  • Accelerate PFAS clean-ups at military facilities.

  • Provide an additional $5 million for a PFAS study by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry.

  • Designate PFAS as “hazardous substances” under CERCLA, the Superfund law.

  • Require the Government Accountability Office to study Defense Department cleanup efforts.

  • Create an online health database for military personnel.

The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry states certain PFAS chemicals are linked to cancer, affect growth, learning, and behavior of infants and older children, increases infertility in women, disrupts the body’s natural hormones, creates high cholesterol, and impacts the immune system. Wilmington and Fayetteville residents have been exposed to a cocktail of PFAS for decades.

Per Environmental Working Group. currently, no federal laws exist to limit PFAS discharges into the air and water, require filtering of contaminated water, or require clean-up of legacy PFAS contamination. The Senate passed their version of PFAS amendments to the annual defense spending bill. Now, both chambers must work together to reconcile the differences and approve one defense spending bill for the President to sign.

Last week, President Trump threatened to veto the defense spending bill if it required the DOD to phase out the use of PFAS in firefighting foam and provide clean water to farms impacted by DOD groundwater contamination.

“These PFAS amendments are a good first step, there is still more work to be done in Washington and Raleigh,” says Donovan. “Wilmington and Fayetteville area residents need to continue pressuring federal and state lawmakers for more health protective PFAS actions. Public pressure works. I know too many people suffering from illnesses at ages far too young to pass off as normal. We need to make this right. Lives are on the line.”

Emily DonovanComment