Groundwater and PFAS


U.S. Secretary of Defense launches PFAS task force

Jul 29, 2019, 07:55 AM by Pat Levak
At least 400 military installations are known to be contaminated with PFAS.
Mark T. Esper

The new U.S. Secretary of Defense has launched a PFAS task force to begin his tenure leading the nation’s military systems.

Mark Esper, Ph.D., was sworn in on July 23 to oversee the department that manages national security, all branches of the military, and Department of Defense active and closed military installations.

Of those sites, at least 400 are known to be contaminated with per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).

“The Department is committed to taking a strong and proactive stance to address the effects arising out of any releases of these substances from all defense activities, including the National Guard and Reserves,” Esper wrote in a memo written on his swearing-in day. “We must approach the problem in an aggressive and holistic way, ensuring a coordinated DoD-wide approach to the issue.”

The assistant secretary of defense for sustainment will chair the PFAS task force.

Esper will direct the task force to focus on these key issues:

  • Health aspects
  • Cleanup standards and performance
  • Finding/funding an effective substitute firefighting foam without PFAS
  • Science-supported standards for exposure and cleanup
  • Interagency coordination
  • Public/Congress perceptions of DoD’s effort.

The PFAS task force will report on its composition and charter within 30 days, and provide an update within 180 days, Esper wrote.

The military has spent more than $200 million on PFAS mitigation so far, according to national reports.

PFAS has been on NGWA’s radar for several years and will remain a priority issue for the foreseeable future. The Association has created an online Groundwater and PFAS resource center, which includes PFAS FAQs, top 10 facts about PFAS, and a homeowner checklist, among other items. NGWA is also the publisher of the guidance document, Groundwater and PFAS: State of Knowledge and Practice.

NGWA will host PFAS in Groundwater Workshop: The Professional's Challenge, December 5 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

NGWA guidance document


NGWA published Groundwater and PFAS: State of Knowledge and Practice, a guidance document on per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in 2017. Created by 36 NGWA volunteers who spent 1100 hours on it over the course of 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 PFAS; it summarizes the fate, transport, remediation, and treatment of PFAS, as well as current technologies, methods, and field procedures.


Fate of PFAS: From Groundwater to Tap Water Conference
August 5, 12, and 19, 2020

NGWA PFAS expert

seth-kelloggSeth Kellogg, PG, a senior geologist at Geosyntec Consultants,​ was elected to the board of the Scientists and Engineers Section of NGWA in 2016, and the national board in 2019. She has more than 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.