Department of Defense on PFAS Task Force Release New Report Citing 60% Increase in Known Contamination Sites

Mar 30, 2020

by ASME.org

The Department of Defense (DOD) Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) Task Force released a new progress report detailing the group’s efforts to fulfill its three main goals, which include mitigating and eliminating the use of the current aqueous film forming foam (AFFF); understanding the impacts of PFAS on human health; and responsibility carryout cleanup responsibilities related to PFAS. As part of its efforts, the Task Force has taken an inventory of toxic sites that need cleanup, finding in this most recent report that that the number of sites the Department is assessing toxicity due to PFAS use has increased from 401 to 651 as of the end of FY 2019, an increase of more than 60%.

The report is broken into sections covering each of the three main goals outlined by the Task Force. In the section on eliminating the use of current AFFF, which was mandated in the FY 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), the report calls attention to the discrepancy in expected budget needed to carryout mitigation efforts. The report cites that the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated that it would cost $35,000 per vehicle to retrofit to a new firefighting foam technology that would replace AFFF use, however the DOD estimates the cost at nearly $200,000 per vehicle. The report finds that based on DOD’s estimate, ARFF vehicle replacements may be required to meet the NDAA requirement, costing $4-6 billion and taking over 18 years to complete.

In addition to outlining future steps and necessary actions, the report concludes that the Task Force has made significant progress towards understanding the Department’s use of PFAS as well as in its ability to monitor and communicate information on the health effects of human exposure. And while the report does state that the Task Force has “begun addressing the extensive new PFAS requirements for DOD in the FY 2020 NDAA,” it is clear that budgetary discrepancies may hinder the path forward.

To read the full report, please visit: https://media.defense.gov/2020/Mar/13/2002264440/-1/-1/1/PFAS-TASK-FORCE-PROGRESS-REPORT-MARCH-2020.PDF.

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