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Groundwater and PFAS


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House and Senate turn to defense bill to address PFAS contamination

Jun 21, 2019, 07:02 AM by Pat Levak
Both include provisions on firefighting foams and blood tests.

The National Defense Authorization Act is annual must-pass legislation that funds activities of the Department of Defense.

In recent years the NDAA has also served as a vehicle for advancing provisions related to contamination from per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) around military sites. This year’s NDAA is proving to be no different with the House of Representatives and Senate each pursuing different avenues to address contamination.

The House NDAA, which cleared the House Armed Services Committee on June 13, would require routine blood tests for firefighters and would require the DoD to use firefighting foams that do not contain PFAS chemicals.

The Senate Armed Services Committee passed NDAA legislation in May, which also contained language limiting the military’s ability to use PFAS-containing foams within a three-year timeline, as well as language to require firefighters have routine blood tests.

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee continued the effort to address PFAS contamination by passing an amendment out of committee that is expected to be added to the NDAA bill. The bipartisan measure, sponsored by Senators Shelley Moore Capito (R-West Virginia), Tom Carper (D-Delaware), and John Barasso (R-Wyoming), is among the most aggressive action taken by Congress to address contamination and includes:

  • The NGWA-endorsed Safe Drinking Water Assistance Act
  • A deadline for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to set a drinking water standard
  • Adding PFAS chemicals to EPA’s Toxic Release Inventory
  • Requiring drinking water utilities to test for PFAS.

Senator Jim Inhofe (R-Oklahoma), chair of the Armed Services Committee, indicated he is interested in including the provision in the NDAA. The provision would also have to go through the House before becoming law.

NGWA guidance document

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NGWA published Groundwater and PFAS: State of Knowledge and Practice, a guidance document on per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). Created by 36 NGWA volunteers who spent 1100 hours on it over 12 months, it is a comprehensive eight-part piece exploring the potentially hazardous, and widely discussed, compounds in groundwater and soil. NGWA published the document to identify the known science and knowledge related to per- and polyfluoroalkyl (PFAS) compounds. It summarizes the fate, transport, remediation, and treatment of PFAS, as well as current technologies, methods, and field procedures.

NGWA PFAS event

PFAS in Groundwater Workshop: The Professional’s Challenge
December 5, 2019

NGWA PFAS expert

seth-kelloggSeth Kellogg, PG, a senior geologist at Geosyntec Consultants,​ was elected to the board of the Scientist and Engineers Section of NGWA in 2016. She has 25 years of experience in evaluating complex contaminant hydrogeology and groundwater/surface water interactions, including large groundwater and sediment sites in New York and New Jersey. As PFAS have emerged as environmental concerns, Kellogg has been working with NGWA to advance the industry’s understanding and implementation of best practices. She has presented and published on the technical and regulatory challenges of PFAS contamination, including coauthoring NGWA’s Groundwater and PFAS: State of Knowledge and Practice (NGWA Press 2017). In May 2018, Kellogg was recommended by members of the NGWA Board of Directors to represent the Association at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency National Leadership Summit on PFAS. Kellogg’s leadership on PFAS has also included several presentations educating industry professionals on the fragmented PFAS regulatory framework, PFAS characterization challenges, and the complexities of PFAS fate and transport. She also served as a program adviser and facilitator for NGWA’s PFAS in Groundwater Workshop that was held in August 2018.