Jul 01, 2019

Senate Passes National Defense Authorization Act

The Senate votes to have the military and EPA set drinking water standards for PFAS

The Senate votes to have the military and EPA set drinking water standards for PFAS

The Senate voted to require the military and the U.S. EPA to set drinking water standards for per- and polyfluoralkyl substances (PFAS). The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) bill was passed Thursday, June 27. 

According to The Hill, EPA will decide whether or not to regulate the chemicals by the end of 2019. EPA currently recommends water have no more than 70 ppt of PFAS. However, some states have set stricter standards then EPA currently has set. According to The Hill, “a move by Congress to force a drinking water standard would be significant and ultimately require local governments to keep PFAS in water below a certain level.”

This bill also uses language directing the U.S. Department of Defense to take more action on PFAS contamination. According to The Hill, this is following an accusation that the Pentagon has tried to weaken EPA regulations that would have the military take on clean up costs. The amendment also requires manufacturers to report the discharge of PFAS chemicals through the Toxic Release Inventory, according to EWG.

Firefighting foam used at military bases has been just one form of PFAS contamination. This bill would give the military three years to phase out the use of this foam, according to The Hill. The bill does not make Superfund money available for places with PFAS contaminated drinking water.

“The provisions we secured in this legislation will improve both the federal government’s understanding of and response to PFAS contamination. The Department of Defense’s use of firefighting foam containing PFAS is a significant source of this contamination," said Sen. Tom Carper to The Hill. "The use of these chemicals in firefighting foam has undoubtedly saved lives, but the cruel irony is that those same life-saving chemicals can endanger lives when they wind up in a glass of drinking water."