PFAS, short for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, are a group of widespread man-made chemicals that don’t break down in the environment or the human body and have been flagged as a major contaminant in sources of water across the country.
Keep up with PFAS-related developments in the Great Lakes area.
In this edition: Michigan collects 30k gallons of toxic PFAS firefighting foam; PFAS testing in Pellston, Michigan, resumes after two-month hiatus; Woodbury, Minnesota, now has an operational temporary water treatment plant; New York further restricts burning of PFAS-containing firefighting foam in Cohoes; Wisconsin leads coalition of 22 states in supporting the EPA’s preliminary decision to regulate PFAS in drinking water; Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources board is set to vote on whether to allow DNR to begin drafting regulations for restrictions on PFAS-containing foam; and Amazon.com Inc. is advertising and selling disposable plates and bowls as compostable, but the products actually contain PFAS.
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More than 30,000 gallons of toxic fluorochemical firefighting foam has been collected from municipal fire departments and commercial airports in Michigan in an effort that state officials believe is the nation’s largest collection and disposal program of its type.
The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy awarded US Ecology a $1.4 million contract last fall to round up the foam. The state’s free disposal program ends this summer. Michigan’s program is voluntary and not all departments have surrendered their Class B foam, largely out of concern it may be needed to fight a fire on a local highway.
- Environmental agency continues to test PFAS levels in Pellston – Petoskey News
The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy continues to test for PFAS in Pellston-area wells after a two-month hiatus because of COVID-19.
In the months since the investigation began, wells showed significantly high results of PFAS in residential areas southeast of Pellston Regional Airport. Testing, which began earlier this year, was stalled amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Teams will continue to test wells starting this week as quarantine directives are lifted.
The city of Woodbury’s new temporary water treatment plant is now operational. The facility is treating water from four wells to meet water quality standards and guidelines for PFAS. Seven of the city’s 19 wells have been removed from service since 2017 due to PFAS levels that were above federal and state water quality standards and guidelines.
- New York Tightens PFAS Burning Restrictions at Upstate Site – Bloomberg Law
The state of New York on Thursday moved to further restrict the burning of firefighting foam containing PFAS in the small upstate community of Cohoes.
The state Department of Environmental Conservation in a letter on Thursday told Norlite LLC and its parent company, Tradebe Environmental Services LLC, that permits for waste incineration that come up for renewal will be treated like new applications and will be subject to an expanded review process.
The state Department of Natural Resources board is set to vote next week on whether to allow the agency to begin drafting regulations restricting firefighting foam containing PFAS chemicals.
The DNR must write the regulations by September. The department’s board is set to vote on an outline of the regulations, known as a scope statement, on June 24. Approval would allow the agency to start drafting the regulations.
- Wisconsin Leads 22-State Coalition on PFAS – Urban Milwaukee
Attorney General Josh Kaul announced Wednesday that Wisconsin is leading a coalition of 22 states in supporting the U.S. EPA‘s preliminary decision to regulate PFAS in drinking water. Attorneys general from other Midwest states, including Minnesota, Illinois and Iowa, were among those who submitted comments to the federal agency on Wednesday.
- Amazon Facing Class Action Alleging PFAS in Disposable Plates – Bloomberg Law
Amazon.com Inc. is advertising and selling disposable plates and bowls as compostable, but the products actually contain PFAS, according to a proposed class action filed in California federal court.
Plaintiff Rick Nguyen said he bought the products from Amazon three times in 2019 as part of an effort to minimize his impact on the environment. The items cost significantly more than similar products that weren’t labeled as compostable, Nguyen said in his lawsuit.
An effort on Capitol Hill to regulate toxic “forever chemicals” is pitting environmental groups against drinking and wastewater utilities that are worried Congress could leave them vulnerable to future lawsuits and high cleanup costs.
House lawmakers are eager to attach language to regulate PFAS to the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act. Policy experts say spending bills and water infrastructure legislation are also potential vehicles in the fall.