News | August 8, 2018

EPA Wraps Up Colorado Springs PFAS Community Engagement

Denver – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) concluded the two-day per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) Community Engagement event in Colorado Springs, Colo. with a roundtable discussion on identifying, communicating, and finding solutions to PFAS.  Roundtable participants included partners from the state and county, local water utilities, and community organizations.

"We've received extremely valuable input from the community over the past two days, and we are committed to work together as teammates to address this issue,” said EPA Regional Administrator Doug Benevento. “Communities are critical stakeholders in this process and will be an integral part of the development of the PFAS national management plan.”

“We support EPA’s efforts to develop a national action plan to address PFAS,” said Patrick Pfaltzgraff, Water Quality Control Division Director at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. “We thank EPA for selecting Colorado as one of four meeting sites to gain public input on this issue. Colorado will remain engaged in this process and continue helping impacted communities.”

“Community members want to have stakeholder status in EPA’s process so we know what’s going on and so we can ensure additional funding and can hold polluters responsible,” said Liz Rosenbaum of the Fountain Valley Clean Water Coalition.

"El Paso County Public Health appreciates the EPA visiting our community to hear from residents impacted by PFAS. We'll continue to collaborate to provide solutions," said Tom Gonzales, Deputy Director of the El Paso County Health Department.

"Overall this was a great benefit to the EPA – community voices were heard," said Widefield Water District Department Manager Brandon Bernard. "The theme from public water systems was to keep us involved as stakeholders in this process."

Overall, the community engagement event encouraged citizens to voice concerns and provide input to EPA. Public engagement of this nature is incredibly valuable to the development of EPA’s understanding of PFAS chemicals in the Mountain West region.

Citizens are also encouraged to submit written statements to the public docket at https://www.regulations.gov/ enter docket number: OW-2018-0270. A summary of the Colorado Springs community engagement event will be made available on the PFAS Community Engagement website following the event.

EPA has made addressing PFAS a priority, and EPA is moving expeditiously on the following actions:

  1. EPA will initiate steps to evaluate the need for a maximum contaminant level (MCL) for PFOA and PFOS. We will convene our federal partners and examine everything we know about PFOA and PFOS in drinking water.
  2. EPA is beginning the necessary steps to propose designating PFOA and PFOS as “hazardous substances” through one of the available statutory mechanisms, including potentially CERCLA Section 102.
  3. EPA is currently developing groundwater cleanup recommendations for PFOA and PFOS at contaminated sites and will complete this task by fall of this year.
  4. EPA is taking action in close collaboration with our federal and state partners to develop toxicity values for GenX and PFBS by this summer.

Background

PFAS is a group of man-made chemicals that have been widely used in everyday products since the 1940s. But PFAS compounds also can enter the environment, raising concerns about the potential environmental and health risks. PFAS have been detected in groundwater in some Colorado communities.
Colorado Springs, Colo. marks the third community engagement event following the event in New Hampshire in June and Pennsylvania last month. Throughout the summer, EPA will visit and similarly engage with additional communities across the country including Fayetteville, North Carolina in the coming weeks. Information on these upcoming sessions will also be available on EPA website.

SOURCE: U.S. EPA