Rep. Antonio Delgado Writes to EPA Acting Administrator Urging Limits on PFOA/PFAS

January 30, 2019
Press Release
In response to reports that EPA will not set limits on PFOA/PFAS levels, Delgado’s letter outlines provisions the agency should include in its PFAS Management Plan

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, U.S. Representative Antonio Delgado (NY-19) wrote to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler urging him to include a commitment to set maximum contaminant levels for PFOA/PFAS as well as additional provisions to address water contamination in Upstate New York and across the country. His letter follows reporting that the EPA’s long-awaited PFAS Management Plan will not include these important measures.

“Many of my constituents have lost loved ones or suffer themselves from the adverse effects of PFAS water contamination,” Delgado wrote in his letter to EPA Acting Administrator Wheeler. Delgado continued, “Americans have a right to know how much, if any, of this chemical is in their drinking water. They have a right to be informed if the problem is getting worse, and they should be able to trust that federal regulators will work to ensure that their communities are safe. To issue a plan without these critical provisions would be to turn your back on communities like mine that have suffered from PFAS contamination.”

Delgado, a founding member of the bipartisan Congressional PFAS Task Force, is committed to addressing water contamination, especially given the high levels of PFOA found in Hoosick Falls and Petersburgh. Delgado is also a cosponsor of the bipartisan PFAS Action Act that would designate all PFAS chemicals under the Superfund program because they pose serious risks to human health and the environment, and there is a growing urgency and need to act.

Read Delgado’s letter:

Dear Acting Administrator Wheeler,

                I was encouraged to hear that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was set to release a per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) National Management Plan in autumn 2018, but am disturbed by reports that this plan will not include a commitment to set maximum contaminant levels for perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) in drinking water. This outcome would be unconscionable. I write to you today to urge that this National Management Plan include robust measures to protect communities from this dangerous group of chemicals.

There are more than 1,500 drinking water systems in the country vulnerable to PFAS contamination, including the Town and Village of Hoosick Falls and Town of Petersburgh in my District in Upstate New York.[1] This contamination affects up to 110 million Americans, and the EPA estimates that there are approximately 5,000 different PFAS chemicals used in commercial products currently on the market.[2] These chemicals persist in the environment and bioaccumulate in the human body and are connected to adverse health effects such as cancer, low infant birth weight, weakened immune system, and thyroid hormonal disruption.[3] 

In 2014, elevated levels of PFOA were found in Hoosick Falls public water system, but residents were not warned for approximately 16 months. Thousands of residents, including young children, tested positive for elevated levels of PFOA. High levels of the toxic chemical were found at four sites in the Village, including at a manufacturing plant adjacent to the Village's water treatment plant. Those sites have since been designated Superfund sites, but PFOA is still not included on the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) hazardous substance list.

As the number of PFAS contamination sites discovered continues to grow, EPA has delayed its expected release of a Management Plan outlining how to best address this public health crisis. While we await federal guidance, manufacturers continue to produce new PFAS chemicals, including so-called “short-chain” PFAS chemicals to replace PFOA and PFOS. EPA estimates that nearly 900 PFAS chemicals have gone through the new chemicals program under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) since 2006.[4]  PFAS chemicals are not included in the Toxic Release Inventory so communities do not have access to information about where these chemicals are being released and in what volume. The delay in federal regulatory action is further contributing to the contamination of water in communities across the country, and a deepened lack of understanding of where these chemicals are being produced. I am writing to ask you to include, at a minimum, the following provisions in the upcoming PFAS Management Plan:

  • Determine a maximum contaminant level for PFOA and PFOS in drinking water;
  • Designate PFAS as a hazardous substance under CERCLA and the Clean Water Act so that affected communities are eligible for cleanup under the EPA Superfund program and manufacturers are required to obtain permits before releasing PFAS chemicals into our waterways;
  • Require testing for PFAS chemicals in all public water systems under the Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule 5;
  • Finalize the pending significant new use rule on PFAS chemicals under TSCA;
  • Place a moratorium on approvals of all new PFAS chemicals under TSCA without exception; and
  • Create measures to ensure that polluters are responsible for cleaning up contaminated sites for which they are responsible. 

Many of my constituents have lost loved ones or suffer themselves from the adverse effects of PFAS water contamination. Americans have a right to know how much, if any, of this chemical is in their drinking water. They have a right to be informed if the problem is getting worse, and they should be able to trust that federal regulators will work to ensure that their communities are safe.

To issue a plan without these critical provisions would be to turn your back on communities like mine that have suffered from PFAS contamination. Thank you for your immediate consideration of this request.

 

 

                                                                                Sincerely,

                                                                                 Antonio Delgado

 

                                                                                Member of Congress                       

 

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