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Kuster Backs New Effort To Add PFAS Package To Defense Spending Bill

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Washington, DC, July 15, 2020 | By Annie Ropeik

Congresswoman Annie Kuster is co-sponsoring a new plan to add toxic PFAS chemical standards to the next federal defense spending bill.

The amendment mirrors a bill that passed the House earlier this year. Speaking on a press call Tuesday, Kuster said that bill has stalled in the Senate.

“We need to get this done,” Kuster said. “The health of countless Americans all across this country, in every district, is too important for us to wait any longer.”

The new amendment is to the next National Defense Authorization Act. Its bipartisan co-sponsors also represent Michigan, Florida, Delaware and Wisconsin.

The amendment, like the stalled House bill, would set up a national drinking water standard for two kinds of PFAS and give grants to affected water systems.

It would also compel more PFAS cleanup at federal toxic waste sites by listing the chemicals as hazardous substances under the law governing the Superfund program.

These provisions were struck from last fiscal year's NDAA before it went to President Trump's signature. The House then approved a separate version of them early in its session this year, before the pandemic-related shutdowns began. 

The prior NDAA carried an amendment from Sen. Jeanne Shaheen that will see the military phase out the use of PFAS-based firefighting foams by 2024.

It also included $10 million for a first-of-its-kind national health study on the chemicals. That study is currently being piloted in Portsmouth where drinking water was contaminated by PFAS used at the former Pease Air Base.

Shaheen has introduced an amendment to this fiscal year’s NDAA to offer more PFAS blood testing for military service members and their families who are or were stationed at contaminated bases.

The Environmental Working group says that list includes more than 600 military sites. The Department of Defense has previously said that about 400 installations are affected.