Bill amendment would clean up toxic ‘forever chemicals’ near military bases

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Change to National Defense Authorization Act would allocate Defense Department resources to cleaning up PFAS

U.S. PIRG and Environment America

WASHINGTON — Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (NH) filed an amendment to the Senate FY2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) Thursday that would classify Perfluorooctane Sulfonate (PFOS) and Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA) — long-lasting toxic substances known as “PFAS” or “forever chemicals” — as hazardous pollutants or contaminants.

This amendment would make it easier for the Department of Defense (DOD) to put funds toward cleaning up PFOS and PFOA contamination of drinking water around military bases, allow DOD to recover clean-up costs from chemical companies responsible for the pollution, and allow PFAS-polluted communities to seek compensation. 

In response, Danielle Melgar, U.S. PIRG’s Toxics Program advocate, and John Rumpler, Environment America’s Clean Water Program senior director, released the following statements:

“Exposure to ‘forever chemicals’ is a serious problem for communities in and around military bases that use PFAS-containing firefighting foam in drills. These chemicals have been linked to cancer, liver damage, and other negative health effects. Now, researchers are looking into a potential link with increased risk of contracting COVID-19,” said Melgar. “An amendment that warns of these hazards would be an important step toward protecting the health of our service members, their families, and surrounding communities.”

“No one should have toxic chemicals in their drinking water,” said Rumpler. “We applaud Sen. Shaheen’s leadership on the issue and we urge senators to vote for her amendment in the final bill.”