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PFAS Action Act introduced to N.H. legislators

Bills presented in both the House and Senate

Legislation in the House and Senate that will require the EPA to designate PFAS hazardous substances has been proposed with support from New Hampshire legislators.

HR535, the PFAS Action Act of 2019, introduced on Jan. 14, was co-sponsored by Chris Pappas, who represents New Hampshire’s 1st Congressional District. Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan co-sponsored the Senate version of the bill on March 1.

Both bills require the EPA to designate PFAS hazardous substances within one year of enactment and make contaminated sites eligible for cleanup funds under the EPA Superfund law. The PFAS Action Act also would require responsible parties to report the excess release of PFAS materials to state and local emergency response officials and be liable for the cost of response actions.

The bill also authorizes federal actions to respond to releases of all PFAS chemicals, not just PFOA, if the release would present a substantial danger to the environment or public health.

PFAS chemicals, which are used for consumer products and firefighting foam and present significant health hazards, including cancer, contaminate groundwater and were found at the Pease Air Force base in Portsmouth and the Saint-Gobain plant in Merrimack.

Saint-Gobain paid to connect more than 750 homes to public water after their private wells were found to be contaminated with PFAS.

The Department of Environmental Services has proposed Maximum Contaminant Levels for four PFAS. Plans to establish national MCLs by the EPA are proceeding in accordance with the PFAS Action Plan that was announced Feb. 14.

“As a member of the PFAS Task Force, I am proud to co-sponsor bipartisan legislation that will classify PFAS as a hazardous compound and direct the EPA to clean up contaminated sites,” Pappas said. “This legislation is an important step in addressing the serious public health threat that directly impacts so many New Hampshire communities.”

“This bipartisan, common-sense legislation will provide Granite State families and millions more across the nation, with the peace of mind they deserve,” Shaheen said. “Families shouldn’t have to worry about the safety of their drinking water every time they turn on the tap.”

“Requiring that the EPA designates all PFAS chemicals as hazardous substances is an important step to help ensure the safety of drinking water in New Hampshire and across the country,” Hassan said. “The EPA has dragged its feet for far too long when it comes to this issue,

According to Congressional records, the PFAS Action Act was introduced in the House on Jan. 14 and was referred to the Committee on Energy and Commerce and the Committee on Transportation. On Feb. 7, it was referred to the Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials.

Shaheen introduced the Safe Drinking Water Assistance Act in 2017 that would improve federal efforts to address the public health effects of contaminants, including PFAS. Both senators have been involved in multiple legislative efforts to address PFAS contamination.