Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
Press Release

DNR Responds To EPA’s Designation Of PFOA And PFOS As Hazardous Substances

 

By - Apr 19th, 2024 10:02 am

MADISON, Wis.The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today announced the designation of PFOA and PFOS, including their salts and structural isomers, as hazardous substances under the federal Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act, also known as “Superfund.” The EPA is taking this action because significant evidence demonstrates that when released into the environment, these chemicals may present substantial danger to public health and the environment.

PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid) and PFOS (perfluorooctane sulfonic acid), two PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) compounds, now become two of more than 800 contaminants regulated under Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act. The EPA’s designation provides additional tools and resources to communities burdened by PFAS contamination.

“The vast majority of contamination sites in Wisconsin are addressed under state authority rather than this federal law,” said Christine Sieger, Director of the DNR’s Bureau for Remediation and Redevelopment. “As such, ensuring the DNR has all the regulatory tools available to respond to contamination as well as support Wisconsin communities struggling with contamination with funding and resources remains crucial. For the limited group of sites that are in the Superfund program, the federal program is important. Two sites in Wisconsin are in the early stages of evaluation for Superfund status based upon contamination.”

This designation may facilitate this effort, provide much-needed resources, and open the door to exploring Superfund designation as a means of addressing contamination of these PFAS at other sites.

With this announcement, the EPA has also stated that it will focus on holding responsible those who significantly contributed to the release of certain PFAS into the environment. The EPA intends to exercise enforcement discretion and does not intend to pursue entities, including farmers, water utilities, public airports or local fire departments.

“The DNR is evaluating the EPA’s new rule and policy in advance of its implementation this summer,” said Jim Zellmer, DNR’s Environmental Management Division Administrator.

PFAS are a group of human-made chemicals used for decades in numerous products, including non-stick cookware, fast food wrappers, stain-resistant sprays and certain types of firefighting foam. These contaminants have made their way into the environment in a variety of ways, including spills of PFAS-containing materials, discharges of wastewater that contain PFAS from treatment plants and use of certain types of firefighting foams.

PFAS are known to accumulate in fish and wildlife tissues and the human body, posing several risks to human health. Known sites impacted by PFAS are available to view in the PFAS Interactive Data Viewer.  

NOTE: This press release was submitted to Urban Milwaukee and was not written by an Urban Milwaukee writer. It has not been verified for its accuracy or completeness.

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