WASHINGTON — The U.S. House Committee on Armed Services approved provisions in the annual defense policy bill early this morning that would phase out the military’s use of toxic per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in firefighting foams.
Bart Johnsen-Harris, clean water advocate for Environment America, issued the following statement:
“Right now, Congress has a critical opportunity to stamp out a major threat to our public health. Millions of people across the country are currently drinking water contaminated with toxic PFAS chemicals. Eliminating the use of these chemicals is the best way to protect our drinking water from these dangerous substances.
“While we commend the House Armed Services Committee for addressing the issue of PFAS, we are concerned with the timeline for phasing out these toxic chemicals at military bases. We feel that we need to phase out these harmful chemicals as quickly as possible. We are pleased that the Committee has expressed a willingness to continue to work with us on this issue.
“The Pentagon has already identified 401 military sites in the U.S. with known or potential PFAS releases. Cleanup at these sites would cost a minimum of $2 billion, a total that could easily rise if this pollution continues. Environment America supports a three-year timeline for transitioning to safer firefighting foams—a reasonable amount of time to harness American ingenuity in a fight to save American lives.
“Service members, their families, and civilians cannot afford to wait. Completing this military phaseout of toxic chemicals won’t be easy, but we all want water that is safe to drink. We look forward to continuing to work with the House Armed Services Committee, congressional leadership, and individual members to protect our drinking water as quickly as possible.”