The House version of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2022, or NDAA, includes $549M in dedicated funding for the cleanup at Defense Department installations of the toxic “forever chemicals” known as PFAS, according to the chairman’s version of the bill, which was released today.
Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) chairs the House Armed Services Committee.
The bill will provide $100M for formerly used defense sites; $175M for the Air Force; $174M for the Navy; and $100M for the Army to clean up PFAS contamination at Defense Department bases.
“EWG applauds Chairman Smith for including more than half a billion dollars in dedicated funding for PFAS cleanup at military sites around the country in the NDAA for FY 2022,” said Scott Faber, senior vice president for government affairs at EWG.
“The historic investments called for in the House NDAA signal just how serious Smith and the members of the House Armed Services Committee are about tackling PFAS contamination,” Faber continued.
“Although dedicated PFAS funding will be critical, Congress must also end needless exposures to toxic PFAS through household items and establish deadlines for the Pentagon to test for and clean up PFAS at military sites,” he added.
Hundreds of DOD installations are contaminated with PFAS, department records show.
PFAS are known as forever chemicals because they build up in our blood and organs and do not break down in the environment. Studies show that exposure to very low levels of PFAS can increase the risk of cancer, harm fetal development and reduce vaccine effectiveness.
The primary source of PFAS contamination at military bases is aqueous firefighting film-forming foam, or AFFF, developed by DOD and 3M in the 1960s and first required by the Navy and the Marine Corps in 1967. Legacy formulations of AFFF, used for decades, contained PFOS and PFAS precursors that can break down into PFOA and other toxic PFAS.
The funding levels in the House version of the NDAA build upon congressional spending that has been dedicated for cleaning up PFAS at military sites. Last year’s omnibus spending bill included $168M for dedicated PFAS cleanup at military sites, with $100M of that going to formerly used defense sites or BRAC sites.
The House NDAA also includes $40M in funding for PFAS through DOD’s environmental research program and environmental security technical certification program to facilitate the replacement of AFFF. The funding will also spur the development of PFAS-free firefighting agents, as well as other environmental remediation and disposal technologies.
In addition, the Subcommittee on Readiness mark passed in July and published on the House Armed Services Committee website today includes several PFAS provisions, some of which were adopted as amendments by the House in its version of the NDAA for 2021:
- Sec. 315 establishes a temporary moratorium on the incineration of materials containing PFAS, including AFFF.
- Sec. 316 requires the Pentagon to publicly report the test results for PFAS at all military sites where tests have been conducted since 2016 and alert communities when it tests for PFAS.
- Sec. 317 requires the Pentagon to produce guidance on ways DOD can prevent or mitigate AFFF spills.
- Sec. 312 would allow the National Guard to use environmental restoration funding to clean up all PFAS as well as other contaminants, not just PFOA and PFOS, the two most notorious PFAS.
The House version of the NDAA for FY 2022 will be marked up by the full House Armed Services Committee on September 1.
About Environmental Working Group
The Environmental Working Group is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization that empowers people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment. Through research, advocacy and unique education tools, EWG drives consumer choice and civic action. For more information, visit www.ewg.org.