Environmental Protection Agency Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler announced Thursday EPA’s Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances, or PFAS, Action Plan. EPA said its plan identifies both short-term solutions for addressing these chemicals and long-term strategies that will help provide the tools and technologies states, tribes and communities need to provide clean and safe drinking water to their residents and to address PFAS at the source before it gets into the water.
For 37 years Chemours Co. discharged GenX and other PFAS into the Cape Fear River, which serves as the Wilmington region’s drinking water supply. EPA has instituted only voluntary actions to limit the manufacture and transmission of this substance.
“While PFAS are currently exempted from most environmental statutes, EPA has the power to mandate water testing, stop on-going pollution, and clean up contaminated places. PFAS disposal puts North Carolina residents at serious risk. Wheeler has ignored this problem and is failing to protect the health and safety American families,” said Sonya Lunder, senior toxics policy adviser with the Sierra Club.
Geoff Gisler, senior attorney at the Southern Environmental Law Center, which represents Cape Fear River Watch in court to stop PFAS pollution from the Chemours facility near Fayetteville, called EPA’s proposal “an empty gesture.”
“We know that these chemicals are only two members of a larger group of toxic pollutants already in our rivers, groundwater, and water supplies, all of which must be cleaned up. While it’s essential that polluters are forced to clean up their existing pollution, EPA must also act to prevent industry from discharging these toxins and endangering people in the first place. The agency’s plan does nothing to stop ongoing pollution, a role that this administration has abandoned,” Gisler said.
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