Vermont must take action to clean up toxic chemicals in water
February 14, 2019 (MONTPELIER, VT) – Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) and Vermont Natural Resources Council (VNRC) released the following statement today in response to the announcement of the Environmental Protection Agency plan to address widespread contamination of Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) in the U.S. The plan does not commit EPA to take action to protect drinking water, add PFAS to Superfund cleanup laws, prevent new PFAS from entering the marketplace, or require reporting and monitoring of PFAS releases.
“EPA has completely failed to protect the public from dangerous PFAS chemicals over the past two decades, and their plan for drinking water is just more foot dragging,” said Jen Duggan, Vice President and Director of CLF Vermont. “EPA has not even committed to setting standards for just two of thousands of toxic PFAS chemicals. We can and must do better. Now more than ever it is clear that Vermont will have to act to protect our drinking water.”
PFAS have been linked to a variety of severe health problems including kidney and testicular cancer; impaired liver, pancreatic, and immune system function; thyroid disease; fertility and pregnancy issues; high blood pressure; and growth and learning problems in infants and children.
“The threats posed by PFAS chemicals to drinking water are real, significant and here now, said Jon Groveman, Policy and Water Program Director for VNRC. “EPA’s proposal is too little and too slow to address health and environmental impacts on PFAS.”
PFAS have been used widely in products that many of us rely on every day – nonstick cookware, food wrappers, water-repellent clothing, stain-resistant fabrics and carpets, cosmetics, firefighting foams, and products that resist grease, water, and oil. Today, there are more than 3,000 different PFAS chemicals.
Vermont state Senator Chris Bray, who is spearheading a bill to set a drinking water standard for PFAS chemicals in Vermont added, “EPA’s announcement is more evidence that states cannot wait for the federal government to act to protect Vermonters from the threat posed by PFAS chemicals in drinking water. Our goal is to protect Vermonters, not simply respond once they’ve literally been poisoned. I will continue to push for standards to protect Vermonter’s drinking water and to lead the way toward addressing the risk associated with the entire class of PFAS chemicals.”
PFAS have been found in waters throughout Vermont, including in over 400 drinking water wells in Bennington County, in private and public water supplies near the Southern Vermont Airport in Clarendon and in a drinking water supply for Grafton Elementary school.
CLF, VNRC, Toxics Action Center, Vermont Public Interest Research Group, and Rights & Democracy filed a petition in Vermont to protect communities from PFAS in drinking water. In response, ANR committed to setting a drinking water standard for five chemicals.
To read more about CLF’s fight to remove PFAS from our water, click here.
Experts are available for further comment.