Gillibrand Urges Action On PFAS

U.S Senator Kirsten Gillibrand has accused the Trump administration of dragging its feet on enacting important legislation — even though the president signed the bill requiring into law.

Gillibrand and fellow NY Senator Chuck Schumer have been working to secure federal funds to clean up PFAS and related contaminants from public drinking water supplies. New York State is plagued with the problem in several communities, including East Hampton and Westhampton locally.

Two month ago, the senators helped pass a law authorizing airports to stop using products that contain the chemicals, but the official order has yet to come down from the Federal Aviation Administration. Because Trump signed off on the proposal, Gillibrand said he should make should make the implementation happen in a timely manner. Gillibrand said there are now non-PFAS-based products on the market to take the place of the foam currently being used.

“I fought to pass a law that allows airports to use firefighting foams without PFAS. We have a responsibility to ensure our airports are not poisoning the water in our communities,” she said.

The problem, she added, is that the airports need to receive permission from the FAA to use the alternate product. “I’m calling on the Trump administration to immediately implement this law and protect our communities from these dangerous chemicals,” Gillibrand said.

On December 4, Gillibrand wrote to Dan Elwell, the acting FAA administrator, urging him to “Remove the requirement that commercial airports use firefighting foam containing highly toxic fluorinated compounds, also known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).” She reiterated that any delay in implementation would continue to exacerbate the potential contamination of ground and drinking water supplies.”

Numerous communities adjacent to and/or near airports, especially U.S. Air Force bases, have had to deal with PFAS contamination.

Stewart Air National Guard Base in Newburgh, now classified as a New York State Superfund site, is believed to be responsible for the pollution of not only city groundwater but nearby Washington Lake.

The senator also highlighted $179 million included in the National Defense Authorization Act to clean up military sites. “I don’t think any military installation has used non-PFAS foam,” she said.

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