The EPA has announced that it will host two public listening sessions “to seek individual input on concerns about enforcement under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) contamination.”
According to the EPA’s announcement, the sessions will focus on “enforcement policy related to responsible parties’ financial obligations under PFAS contamination response actions.” The input will be considered by the Agency in drafting a CERCLA PFAS enforcement discretion policy. That policy is intended to clarify when EPA intends to use its CERCLA enforcement authorities or its CERCLA enforcement discretion, to the extent PFAS cleanup enforcement efforts occur under CERCLA. According to the EPA:
The policy will take into account various factors, such as EPA’s intention to focus enforcement efforts on PFAS manufacturers and other industries whose actions result in the release of significant amounts of PFAS into the environment, and EPA’s intention to not focus on pursuing entities where factors do not support taking an enforcement action.
The announcement does not provide any insight into what the EPA considers to be “significant amounts of PFAS” or what other “various factors” will be considered when deciding whether to take an enforcement action. Presumably, these factors will be discussed at the listening sessions.
These listening sessions are not intended to seek comment on EPA’s perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) hazardous substance designation rulemaking process. That rulemaking comment period has closed. The EPA has yet to issue a final rule on the matter, although the fact that EPA is working on a CERCLA PFAS enforcement discretion policy hints that the rule may be coming soon.
The sessions are scheduled for Tuesday, March 14, 2023 from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. (EST) and Thursday, March 23, 2023, from 10 a.m. to noon (EST). The sessions will also be recorded and made available on the EPA’s enforcement webpage.
You can register for the sessions using the links on this WEBSITE. You can also submit written remarks on or before March 31, 2023 using the links on that same page.
Check back after the session dates for a summary of the discussion!
From 2018 through 2020, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (the Department or NJDEP) adopted a suite of new rules to address certain per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), specifically, PFOA, PFOS and PFNA, under multiple Department programs. Since that time, the Department continued to advance additional measures targeting these compounds under the auspices of its regulatory and enforcement authorities. More recently, the New Jersey Legislature has taken aim at these and other PFAS, expanding the scope of certain existing laws and introducing a collection of new bills regulating the use, detection and research of PFAS throughout the State. Here’s an overview of the current regulation of PFAS in New Jersey and what to expect in 2023.
Drinking Water Maximum Contaminant Levels
New Jersey was at the forefront of regulating PFAS in drinking water, being one of the first states to propose and adopt regulations setting a maximum contaminant level (MCL) for PFNA (13 parts per trillion (ppt)) in 2019, followed closely by the adoption of MCLs for PFOA (14 ppt) and PFOS (13 ppt) in 2020. These regulations require public water systems to routinely monitor for these contaminants, notify their customers of any violation within 30 days of determining that a violation has occurred, and report MCL violations to the public in their annual Consumer Confidence Reports.
Because the current New Jersey MCL regulations apply to public water systems only, New Jersey also expanded the testing of private wells under the Private Well Testing Act (PWTA), to address PFOA, PFOS and PFNA. The PWTA requires the testing of private potable wells prior to closing the sale of the property and also requires landlords to test private potable wells every five years and provide those test results to their tenants. As of December 2021, PFOA, PFOS and PFNA were added to the PWTA list of water quality parameters required to be tested.
New Jersey’s MCLs for PFOA and PFOS could change in 2023. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) anticipates issuing a proposed National Primary Drinking Water Regulation for PFOA and PFOS in 2023. The proposal, which is expected in March, will include a maximum contaminant level goal (which is unenforceable) and an enforceable standard, which may be an MCL or a required treatment technique. In the event the US EPA adopts an MCL for PFOA or PFOS that is lower than the standard adopted by New Jersey, the US EPA MCL will apply (as would any treatment technique that it may require). US EPA anticipates finalizing the drinking water regulation by year-end. Continue reading “New Jersey and PFAS Regulation — What’s Come Before and What Does 2023 Have in Store?”