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PFAS CERCLA Designation Will Harm Manufacturing

In a move that will hinder the growth of manufacturing in the U.S., according to the NAM, the Environmental Protection Agency on Friday designated two widely used chemicals as hazardous substances under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act, or Superfund law, Law360 (subscription) reports.

What’s going on: The addition of two per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, to the federal list “means the EPA can investigate and clean up releases of the chemicals and ensure that leaks, spills and other releases are reported. Under CERCLA, the government and other parties can sue for contributions to cleanups and to recover costs related to those actions.”

  • The newly added PFAS are perfluorooctanoic acid, or PFOA, and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid, or PFOS. PFAS have been used across industries for decades for their unmatched ability to douse fires and resist corrosion, stains and grease.
  • The news comes the same month the EPA announced the first-ever national regulation limiting PFAS levels in drinking water to near-zero levels.

What’s in it: “The rule requires entities to immediately report releases of PFOA and PFOS that meet or exceed the ‘reportable quantity’ to the National Response Center, state or tribal emergency response commission, and the local or tribal emergency planning committee, according to the EPA.”

Why it’s problematic: “[T]his unprecedented use of CERCLA authority by the EPA will only hamper President Biden’s vision of growing the manufacturing sector in the U.S.,”  NAM Managing Vice President of Policy Chris Netram said, adding that manufacturers support smart efforts to remove harmful substances from the environment.

  • “The unique and unmatched chemical bond of these compounds means that there are no existing replacements for the critical products they make up.”
  • Furthermore, the overly broad designation of PFOA and PFOS as hazardous “will make it harder for our industry to create innovative products and jobs.”
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