Sen. Tom Carper joined a bipartisan group of senators in announcing on May 10 the introduction of the PFAS Accountability Act, a bill that would hold federal agencies accountable for addressing contamination for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances at military bases across the country.

It comes just days after the release of a new report showing that 19 million people in 43 states have been exposed to PFAS-contaminated water.

The PFAS Accountability Act sets clear deadlines and reporting requirements for cleaning up PFAS contamination at federal facilities across the country, including active and decommissioned military bases, and mandates greater transparency. It calls on federal facilities, including military and National Guard installations, to expedite cooperative agreements with states to address PFAS contamination. These agreements commit the federal government to take specific actions and enable states and local communities to be reimbursed for costs incurred to address PFAS contamination. If a cooperative agreement is not reached within a year after a state requests one, the bill requires a federal agency such as the Department of Defense to send a report to Congress explaining the reason for the delay and a projected timeline for completing the agreement. In addition, the bill enables the federal government to issue grants to states, local communities and tribes to take actions to address drinking, ground and surface waters contaminated by PFAS.

On April 25, Carper raised concern regarding the EPA’s draft interim guidance for addressing groundwater contaminated with PFOA and PFOS. This draft guidance failed make clear that DOD has agreed to take action to clean up sites that are contaminated at levels between 70-380 ppt, a commitment DOD had previously objected to making. This guidance was released after Carper, on March 14, encouraged EPA to resist pressure from DOD to severely weaken groundwater cleanup standards for military sites.

Full text of the bill can be accessed at bit.ly/2VsMWcf.

“I’ve heard directly from people whose day-to-day lives have been disrupted, first by being made aware of the potential for PFAS contamination in their drinking water, and then by federal agencies’ agonizingly slow response to address it,” said Carper. “I’ve heard directly from local leaders whose communities are footing the bill to address PFAS contamination caused by a federal facility, yet they have no guarantee of reimbursement or recourse from the federal government. I’ve heard enough — it’s time for Congress to step in and ensure these Americans get the protections they need when contamination is suspected or detected in their community.”