With the publication of two new proposed rules on February 8, 2024, EPA has taken the first step under its PFAS Strategic Roadmap to bring PFAS compounds under the umbrella of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (“RCRA”). These proposals are designed to accomplish both short- and long-term objectives. In the short-term, EPA’s proposals will make PFAS compounds subject to corrective action authorities at RCRA hazardous waste facilities. This means that if a release occurs at such facilities, the owner or operator must investigate whether the contamination includes PFAS and, if so, remediate the contamination along with other hazardous constituents. In the long term, EPA’s proposals set the stage to list nine PFAS compounds as RCRA hazardous wastes. Continue Reading EPA Sets the Stage to List PFAS as a Hazardous Waste
Phil's practice spans both regulatory counseling and environmental-based litigation. With nearly four decades of experience in environmental law and a focus on the solid and hazardous waste industry, he regularly counsels owners and operators of landfills, treatment facilities, recycling operations, and waste generators on compliance, enforcement, and litigation matters arising under the environmental laws He has worked on a number of precedent-setting lawsuits involving the alleged contamination of private and public drinking water supplies with PFAS-containing landfill leachate; counseled clients on PFAS compliance, and represented landfills in PFAS enforcement actions.
On October 18, 2021, EPA issued its, “PFAS Strategic Roadmap: EPA’s Commitments to Action 2021-2024.” This roadmap sets out EPA’s action plan for minimizing the release of PFAS into the environment. In the Roadmap, EPA emphasizes the need to “get upstream of the problem” and to “hold polluters accountable.” In the field of hazardous waste, there is a well-established mechanism for minimizing the uncontrolled release of contaminants into the environment, specifically, RCRA’s “cradle-to-grave” tracking system. Under this system, generators of solid waste must determine whether their waste is hazardous. If so, they must fill out a hazardous waste manifest, which tracks waste from the point of generation to a treatment or disposal facility permitted to safely manage the material. Further, once a new waste enters RCRA’s hazardous waste program, it becomes subject to the land disposal restriction program and EPA must set treatment standards for newly listed wastes within 6 months. 42 U.S.C. § 6924(g). Continue Reading EPA Must List PFAS as a Hazardous Waste or Pass the Baton to Congress to Take Action
After much anticipation in the environmental community, EPA has announced proposed enforceable drinking water standards for six PFAS compounds, including PFOA and PFOS.
Unlike the agency’s two prior health advisories, these maximum contaminant levels (MCLs), if finalized, will set legally enforceable compliance standards for drinking water. Of interest is that EPA set the new proposed MCLs for PFOA and PFOS at the practical quantitation level (PQL), defined as the “lowest concentration of a contaminant that can be reliably achieved within specified limits of precision and accuracy during routine laboratory operating conditions.” According to EPA, “EPA has determined that PFOA and PFOS are likely carcinogens (i.e., cancer causing) and that there is no level of these contaminants that is without a risk of adverse health effects. Therefore, EPA is proposing the set the MCL for these two contaminants at four parts per trillion, the lowest feasible level based on the ability to reliably measure and remove these contaminants from drinking water.” Thus, although the proposed enforceable MCLs are higher than EPA’s 2022 Health Advisory for PFOA and PFOS, which were set based on health risks, the proposed new MCLs are still set at essentially the instrument detection levels.Continue Reading EPA Proposes New Strategy for Regulating PFAS in Drinking Water