On April 9, 2019, US EPA announced plans to list two toxic fluorochemicals, perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), as hazardous substances under the CERCLA/Superfund program. The announcement was made at the spring meeting for the Environmental Council of States.
What Does the New CERCLA Listing Mean?
Adding these PFAS chemicals to the hazardous substance list will facilitate cleanup of sites contaminated with these chemicals, which are common in surface coatings, food packaging, textiles, firefighting foams, and other products.
While production of these persistent, bioaccumulative chemicals has been largely phased out in the United States
, some producers still offer them from existing stock and they can still be imported into the US for a limited number of uses.
If and when EPA finalizes the rule to list PFOS and PFOA as hazardous substances under CERCLA:
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- Sites contaminated with these chemicals can be listed as Superfund sites.
- Money from the Superfund can be used to clean up sites contaminated with PFOA and/or PFOS.
- Release reporting will be required for these chemicals.
- Reportable Quantity (RQ) values will be added under CERCLA (40 CFR 302.4).
- State and Federal authorities may seek damages or cleanup costs from parties responsible for PFOA or PFOS contamination.
Will EPA Set MCLs for PFAS?
Earlier this year, EPA announced a four-part Action Plan
to address per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in drinking water. EPA calls it “the most comprehensive cross-agency plan to address an emerging chemical of concern ever undertaken by EPA.”
In addition to listing PFOA and PFOS as hazardous substances under CERCLA, the plan outlines other EPA actions for these chemicals, including creating recommendations for groundwater cleanup. Before the end of 2019, EPA will make a “regulatory determination” that could lead to new Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCL) for the two fluorochemicals.
Identify the EPA Clean Water Act and Safe Drinking Water Act permit, discharge, reporting, and oil spill requirements that apply at your facility—and make informed decisions about how to achieve compliance. Check out Clean Water Act & SDWA Online Course here.
Previous Actions on PFAS Chemicals
EPA has previously identified PFOA and PFOS on the SDWA’s most recent Contaminant Candidate List, the CCL4, released by EPA on November 17, 2016. [81 FR 81099]
That same year, the EPA announced health advisories for PFOA and PFOS, set at 70 parts per trillion. Under the Safe Drinking Water Act, health advisories are non-regulatory and non-enforceable guidance to states and to public water systems.
Between 2006 and 2015, eight major companies joined together to reduce emissions of these chemicals and eliminate their use in products.
Convenient, Effective Online EHS Manager Training
Managing site compliance with the many complex EPA programs that affect your business—from the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts to TSCA, EPCRA, CERLCA, and more—is a major challenge. If you’re new to the field, or need an update on changing EPA rules, online training is a convenient way to quickly build in-depth expertise.
Check out the latest EPA compliance training options here:
Clean Air Act Regulations Online
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New! Clean Water Act & SDWA Regulations Online
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The 2019 nationwide schedule for the Complete Environmental Regulations Workshop
is now available. Collaborate with other managers to identify the requirements that apply to your facility, ask the right questions, and make the right decisions about EPA compliance.