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Sen. Schumer wants PFAS provisions added to defense bill

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer during a ceremony at the Capitol in Washington, D.C., in 2017.

CARLOS BONGIOANNI/STARS AND STRIPES

By LANA BELLAMY | The Times Herald-Record | Published: December 4, 2019

CITY OF NEWBURGH, N.Y. (Tribune News Service) — U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer is calling for a slate of provisions to be added to a 2020 defense bill that would address PFAS contamination by the Department of Defense and prevent further pollution in waterways.

Schumer is asking that the two most common types of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, PFOA and PFOS, be immediately listed as hazardous substances under the federal Superfund program, according to a news release from his office.

Doing so would allow federal officials to more quickly and efficiently address PFAS contamination caused by the DoD and other entities, according to the release.

Other provisions Schumer is pushing for in the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act include:

— Preventing releases of PFAS into waterways under the Clean Water Act

— Cleaning up PFAS contamination from drinking water supplies through the Safe Drinking Water Act

— Requiring the Environmental Protection Agency to identify communities at greater risk of having drinking water contaminated by PFAS and all its associated compounds, and set standards to protect those communities

"The prevalence of these carcinogens requires a comprehensive response from the federal government so that the residents of New York have access restored to the safe drinking water they need and deserve," Schumer said in a statement.

PFAS is a family of man-made, persistent toxic chemicals found in firefighting foams, Scotchguard, Teflon non-stick cookware and other common manufactured items.

In 2016, the City of Newburgh found extremely high levels of PFOS in Washington Lake, its primary drinking source at the time. Studies indicated the chemicals came from firefighting foam used at nearby Stewart Air National Guard Base.

The city changed its drinking water source to New York City's Catskill Aqueduct. Brown's Pond is currently being used as a back-up source. The state is reimbursing Newburgh for the cost of drawing from the aqueduct.

Newburgh and Hoosick Falls will be part of a landmark national study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that will examine health effects related to PFAS exposure in multiple American communities.

©2019 The Times Herald-Record, Middletown, N.Y.
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