WASHINGTON — The U.S. Senate Committee on Armed Services today announced legislation to phase out the military’s use of toxic per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in firefighting foams. As part of the annual defense spending bill, called The National Defense Authorization Act, the Pentagon would be restricted from purchasing PFAS foams after 2022, and prohibited from using PFAS foams after 2023.
“We applaud the bipartisan group of senators who came together this week to protect our drinking water from these toxic chemicals,” said Bart Johnsen-Harris, clean water advocate for Environment America. “Ending the use of these persistent, cancer-causing chemicals is the best way to prevent contamination. From Michigan to North Carolina, families are grateful for this week’s progress and counting on Congress to finish the job.”
The bill comes in response to calls by Environment America, as well as veterans groups and affected communities, to phase out PFAS in the military within three years. Next month, the House will unveil its own version of the bill. The Senate version is likely to influence those deliberations, as the two bills will have to be reconciled later this year.
"Stopping the military's use of PFAS would cut off a major source of pollution," said Shaina Kasper, water program director of Toxics Action Center, which is an organization that coordinates more than 25 grassroots groups from 16 states and Guam through the National PFAS Contamination Coalition. "This legislation would go a long way to protect communities from future PFAS contamination."
The military’s use of toxic fire fighting foam has already contaminated as many as 400 military bases, according to the Department of Defense.
“We all deserve clean drinking water,” said Kara Cook-Schultz, toxics director for U.S. PIRG. “It’s great to see that a bipartisan group of senators agree that it is time for our military phase out these dangerous chemicals.”