Feds Consider Ban on PFAS Firefighting Foam at Military Bases

PFAS chemicals can cause serious birth defects and health effects

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Six months after tens of thousands of gallons of firefighting foam spilled into the Farmington River in Windsor from Bradley, U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal announced Friday a potential federal requirement to phase out firefighting foam containing PFAS at all military bases.

“The United States military is going to take the lead and provide a model for the nation in phasing out and stopping use of these PFAS contaminants,” Blumenthal said.

The mandate would apply to military bases like the Connecticut Air National Guard. Blumenthal said he hopes the requirement for the military will move civilian airports, which are required by the FAA to use PFAS foam on firetrucks, to do the same.

“Bradley should take a page from the military playbook and end the use of fluoride foam products,” Blumenthal said.

If passed, the act would also provide financial aid through a superfund to communities like Windsor whose soil or water has been contaminated. Preliminary sampling of the Farmington River showed elevated levels of PFAS in fish.

“We need to get quicker turnaround time for testing and monitoring specifically drinking water wells that we have here in town,” Windsor Mayor Don Trinks said.

Right now Gov. Ned Lamont is reviewing recommendations made a state PFAS Task Force, it does not define how the state will help towns and cities with removal. 

PFAS, known as “forever chemicals” have been linked to health risks ranging from developmental effects in fetuses and infants and certain forms of cancer.

“The Superfund Act is a very powerful tool for cleaning up pollution like the PFAS pollution here and it can bring both legal authority but also funding to these cleanups,” Bill Dornbos with the Farmington River Watershed Association said.

PFAS can cause serious birth defects and health effects that environmental groups say members of the military and everyone else should be protected from.

“They are linked to kidney and testicular cancer’s and adults and once they make their way into our environment and our bodies they never leave,” Louis Burch, Citizens Campaign For the Environment said.

Blumenthal said he’ll also push the EPA for improved drinking water standards.

“It could’ve just been a small town spill, no attention gained but now it’s what it deserves and what it should be a national almost crisis that we’re facing,” Trinks said.

Blumenthal said he expects the National Defense Authorization Act will pass within the week. It would also require public reports by industries when there’s any contamination and funding for research. The results from the second round of PFAS sampling from the Farmington River are expected any day now.

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