On November 17, the EPA paused its prior approval of up to 100 shipments of wastes containing per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) from the Chemours Netherlands B.V. facility in Dordrecht to the Chemours Fayetteville Works plant in North Carolina. The North Carolina Chemours plant has been the source of previous pollution.
This news comes on the heels of a new analysis of EPA data showing that over the last five years at least 60 million pounds of PFAS waste has been disposed of in the US. According to the author of the new analysis, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (Peer), the 60m pounds estimate is likely to be a “dramatic” undercount because PFAS waste is mostly “unregulated” in the US and companies are typically not required to record its disposal. As part of its analysis, Peer identified over 10,300 PFAS waste shipments between June 2018 and June 2023.
In October 2021, EPA said it intended to add four PFAS chemicals to the list of Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) “hazardous constituents.” However, as of November 19, 2023, EPA had not taken steps to implement this proposal. Listing the chemicals as hazardous constituents would trigger clean-up authority under RCRA’s “corrective action” program.
PFAS have been linked to serious health concerns, such as cancer, and have been detected in water, soil, air, food, household, and workplace materials across the world. Despite these known risks, it remains unclear how and when the federal government will more fully address the continued importation and disposal of PFAS in the US.
For additional information and guidance related to PFAS, contact one of Taft’s experienced environmental attorneys to learn more.