State Leaders Push For Federal Funds, Guidance to Deal With PFAS

Two new pieces of federal legislation designate PFAS as a hazardous substance, but state leaders are still awaiting word on what funding Connecticut will see to address the problem.

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As state environmental and health leaders wait to learn how much of Connecticut’s money could be set aside their PFAS Action Plan, there was a push Wednesday for federal funds and guidance from Congressman John Larson.

“EPA needs to step up and make a regulatory determination,” Lori Mathieu with the state Department of Public Health said.

The town hall comes on the heels of the U.S. House of Representatives passing the PFAS Action Plan of 2019, and the passing of the Defense Authorization Act.

Both pieces of legislation designate PFAS as a hazardous substance. The federal PFAS Action Plan would create a drinking water standard, a standard these state leaders say the EPA has dragged its feet on.

“We need to get started on pulling samples across all of our water sources as well as our water resources across our state so that we have a better idea of what we are dealing with and what we are facing,” Mathieu said.

Mathieu says making sure drinking water meets standard adds up. The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection says right now one drinking water sample sent across state lines costs between $200 and $300 and can take weeks to process.

Ray Frigon with DEEP is now hoping to add equipment to the state’s public health laboratory that would test PFAS in drinking and wastewater. It would cost anywhere from $600,000 to $800,000, but Frigon says the investment would have a quick return.

“This will be money very well spent to determine what the state of Connecticut’s environment is with respect to this emerging contaminant,” Frigon said.

Larson says the $100 million approved for PFAS funding in the Defense Authorization Act is a start and the superfund designation will help hold companies responsible for contamination accountable.

“We need to come together as a country with a fierce urgency of now and I think that’s what is frustrating to everyone,” Larson said.

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