EPA Proposes to Add PFAS Chemicals to Superfund
October 6, 2022
EPA’s proposal Sept. 6 to add two PFAS chemicals, PFOA and PFOS to Superfund as hazardous chemicals, comes over the repeated objections of NMPF and other agricultural organizations that have repeatedly argued against this approach. With a comment deadline for the rule due in November, NMPF is exploring what issues to raise and who we may want to collaborate with to keep poorly thought-out regulations from harming dairy operations.
While PFAS is primarily a drinking water problem globally, thousands of U.S. agriculture operations are potentially contaminated with PFAS chemicals from military operations, biosolid land application or industrial activity, which could turn those agriculture operations into Superfund sites under this proposal.
One of the tenets of Superfund law is to make responsible parties pay to clean up the sites, which can be astronomically expensive. Superfund also automatically assumes that past and present owners are potentially responsible parties who will be liable for the cleanup costs. The legal process to navigate out of Superfund liability also can be time-consuming and costly. EPA has asserted that it will use enforcement discretion to keep farmers from being held liable, but NMPF believes that notion is highly flawed, as there are many ways to be brought into Superfund litigation, with EPA as one avenue.
EPA will take comments on the rule until Nov. 7; NMPF anticipates that the deadline will be extended. NMPF will file comments that urge EPA to use other laws to address PFAS contamination and that EPA approach PFAS issues taking scientific research into consideration.