The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued the proposed rule to designate two PFAS compounds as hazardous substances under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA). The EPA is proposing to designate perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS), including their salts and structural isomers, as hazardous substances.
The proposed rule states that it is intended “to promulgate regulations designating as hazardous substances such elements, compounds, mixtures, solutions, and substances which, when released into the environment, may present substantial danger to the public health or welfare or the environment. Such a designation would ultimately facilitate cleanup of contaminated sites and reduce human exposure to these “forever” chemicals”. Comments must be received on or before 60 days past the date of publication (September 6, 2022) in the Federal Register, which would be until November 7, 2022.
The main take-aways from this proposed rule are:
- The proposed rule sets a reporting quantity (RQ) of 1 pound or more in a 24-hour period. Any release above the 1-pound RQ of PFOA or PFOS (and their salts and structural isomers) would have to be reported to EPA.
- CERCLA casts a wide net – this rule potentially expands the universe of sites and facilities subject to CERCLA cleanup of PFOA and PFOS to those with no direct history of manufacture or use, due to the ubiquitous nature of these compounds, and may allow “re-openers” of “closed” or “no further action” sites, including (former) brownfields redevelopment sites, in addition to potentially adding requirements for active CERCLA sites.
- A designation as a CERCLA hazardous substance could make the path toward a RCRA hazardous waste listing much easier.
What you can do now:
- Talk to your State and Local Representatives to express your opinions on the proposed rule.
- Provide comments on the proposed rule.
- Proactively address your potential risk associated with PFAS compounds by contacting a TRC expert.
- EPA Pre-Publication Notice & Proposed Rule
- Comments can be submitted
- Via the Federal eRulemaking Portal: https://www.regulations.gov (preferred method). Follow the online instructions for submitting comments, and include the Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OLEM-2019-0341; or
- Via mail to: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, EPA Docket Center, OLEM Docket, Mail Code 28221T, 1200 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20460; or
- Hand delivered/courier to: EPA Docket Center, WJC West Building, Room 3334, 1301 Constitution Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20004.