EPA Designates PFAS Under Superfund Law

Published On: April 19, 2024By Categories: Newsline

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency designated on April 19 two per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS)—PFOA and PFOS—as hazardous substances under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) or Superfund law.

The EPA’s final rule designates PFOA and PFOS as hazardous substances: the first PFAS regulated under the Superfund law. The EPA is taking this step to designate PFOA and PFOS under CERCLA because both chemicals meet the statutory criteria for designation as hazardous substances.

“The EPA designation provides additional clarity, but many challenges remain to balance cleanup efforts for PFAS and legacy contaminants for the best environmental outcome,” said NGWA Director of Science and Technology Bill Alley, Ph.D.

Under the rule, entities are required to immediately report releases of PFOA and PFOS that meet or exceed the reportable quantity of one pound within a 24-hour period to the National Response Center, State, Tribal, and local emergency responders. The designation of PFOA and PFOS as hazardous substances under CERCLA enables the agency to use one of its strongest enforcement tools to compel polluters to pay for or conduct investigations and cleanup rather than taxpayers. Designation is especially important as delay in addressing contamination allows PFOA and PFOS more time to migrate in water and soil, worsening existing contamination.

The final rule also means that federal entities that transfer or sell their property must provide notice about the storage, release, or disposal of PFOA or PFOS on the property and guarantee that contamination has been cleaned up or, if needed, that additional cleanup will occur in the future. It will also lead the Department of Transportation to list and regulate these substances as hazardous materials under the Hazardous Materials Transportation Act.

This new designation comes shortly after the EPA finalized its first-ever drinking water standard for six PFAS.

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NGWA has long been an industry leader in providing PFAS research, education, and resources to the public and scientific communities. Learn more by visiting NGWA.org/PFAS, which is a complete resource center about the groundwater contaminants featuring a recently updated top-10 facts sheet, a position paper, and more.

The Association recently hosted, Groundwater in the PFAS Era: Stressors, Protection, and Compliance Conference, April 16-17 in Tucson, Arizona.

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