Airport PFAS Bill Advances in Senate |


WASHINGTON, DC — Bipartisan legislation drafted by U.S. Senator Gary Peters (D-MI) to reduce the spread of toxic per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) contamination at commercial airports has advanced through the Senate.

The PFAS Runoff Prevention at Airports Act would deploy more existing Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) funds for commercial airports to purchase the devices needed to test their firefighting equipment, without rejecting products toxic PFAS chemicals.

The legislation would encourage these airports to purchase relatively inexpensive devices, also known as input-based testing systems, to help limit and prevent exposure to PFAS – which are known as “eternal chemicals” because they do not decompose naturally. . It would also require the FAA to identify reimbursement options for airports in Michigan and elsewhere that have already acquired the devices without federal funding.

Peters’ legislation has been approved by the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, of which he is a member, in addition to serving as chairman of the Commerce Subcommittee on Surface Transportation, Maritime Transportation, Freight and the ports.

“PFAS contamination poses a serious health risk to first responders, veterans and residents of our communities, and continues to threaten local ecosystems and the environment. Clearly more needs to be done to mitigate these toxic chemicals,” Peters said. “This sensible and fiscally responsible bill would encourage commercial airports across the country to use existing federal funds to purchase testing equipment that prevents the spread of PFAS contamination into the environment. The bill would also make this equipment more affordable, while protecting our airports, first responders, families and the Great Lakes – and I will continue to fight for it to be adopted.

According to Peters, the FAA has required commercial airports nationwide to use fire-fighting foam containing toxic PFAS chemicals. For years, airports have been required to reject this foam as part of routine, federally mandated testing of their firefighting equipment. This put firefighters, the environment and the public at risk of exposure to toxic PFAS chemicals.

Peters presented the Preventing PFAS Runoff at Airports Act with U.S. Senators Jerry Moran (R-KS), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Cynthia Lummis ( R-WYOMING).

“Commercial airports should have the equipment necessary to test their firefighting equipment in a way that does not expose firefighters or surrounding communities to toxic PFAS foams,” Moran said. “I am pleased that this legislation is now before the full Senate for consideration, to promote the health and well-being of firefighters and aviation workers at commercial airports, as well as to protect communities around them.

“The FAA requires regular testing of firefighting equipment, which can place undue burdens on regional and commercial airports and result in the release of harmful chemicals like PFAS,” Capito says. “Specifically, the Airport PFAS Runoff Prevention Act would benefit several West Virginia airports — such as Yeager, Greenbrier, and Mid-Ohio Valley — and improve the overall safety of their operations. This bill would allow them to purchase equipment to test their rescue and firefighting equipment at airports without scattering PFAS foam, and I’m glad the committee voted to move it forward today.

“As we strive to keep all travelers and airport workers safe, reducing the spread of toxic substances must be a priority,” adds Klobuchar. “This bill will make a real difference in helping airports get the equipment they need to help prevent contamination from toxic substances. Now that it has been passed by the trade committee, I look forward to it being passed by the Senate and into law.

“PFAS contamination around airports is a serious problem with a very simple solution. With simple test solutions already funded under the [FAA] Airport Improvement Program, we can protect the environment without creating more burdensome regulations for smaller airports in Wyoming,” Lummis said.

“We have known for decades that certain PFAS chemicals pose a dangerous risk to public health,” says Duckworth. “Despite this knowledge, we continued to use these harmful foams to put out fires – especially at airports – and continued to allow them to seep into our soil, our water and ultimately our neighbors and loved ones. “We must do more to reduce the spread of toxic PFAS contamination by using common sense solutions that are already available. I am proud to see this bill pass out of committee today.”

As chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Peters notes that he called a hearing in December to examine the Department of Defense’s failures to protect Michigan’s military, military families and communities. against exposure to PFAS.

Additionally, his bill to protect firefighters and emergency responders from exposure to PFAS in the line of duty passed the Senate.

Among his other efforts to combat PFAS, Peters released a Government Accountability Office report last year, which he says shows the federal government needs to take additional steps to clean up and prevent PFAS contamination.

He also helped pass the bipartisan Infrastructure Act, which invests in clean water and includes dedicated funding to address PFAS contamination.

A number of groups and individuals have shared statements in support of the Airport PFAS Runoff Prevention Act, several of which are listed below.

• Bentley Johnson, Director of Federal Government Affairs, Michigan League of Conservation Voters: “Toxic PFAS contamination is a major threat in Michigan communities, and this legislation will help reduce exposure to PFAS at commercial airports, one of the primary sources of contamination. We commend Senator Peters and the sponsors of this legislation for taking proactive steps to protect our health and begin to address this water contamination crisis.

• Kevin Klein, CEO of Northwest Regional Airport Authority and Director of Cherry Capital Airport: “Cherry Capital Airport applauds Senator Peters’ bipartisan efforts to secure funding for input-based test equipment for aircraft rescue and firefighting vehicles. This equipment allows airports to meet their regulatory requirements for vehicle testing without discharging firefighting foam containing PFAS. This step in a road of many brings the [FAA] closer to the goal of eliminating PFAS chemicals from impacting our soil and water. Cherry Capital Airport looks forward to the day the FAA accepts and implements new fire-fighting foam that will protect the flying public.

• Todd Hauptli, President and CEO, Association of American Airport Managers (AAAE): “Environmental stewardship is a top priority for airport leaders, and the AAAE appreciates this bipartisan effort to build federal support for airports to safely test Aqueous Film Forming Foam (AFFF). As airports eagerly await federal approval of PFAS-free foam and significant long-term federal support for the transition from FAA-mandated AFFF, this legislation is a positive step forward that deserves support. . We are grateful to Senator Peters and his colleagues for their continued leadership on this important file.

• Annie Russo, Director of Political Strategy and Congress at Airports Council International – North America: “We appreciate Senators Peters and Moran working together to help airports acquire additional fire-fighting foam test carts. The FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 directed the FAA to certify an alternative fluorine-free fire-fighting foam for airports, and we look forward to the timely conclusion of this work and the establishment of a plan for national transition to fluorine-free foams. In the meantime, airports welcome this help in getting new carts to capture fire-fighting foam discharged during FAA-mandated certification testing.

• Chief Kenneth Stuebing, President and Chairman of the Board, International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC): “It is crucial that airports have the resources to extinguish fires safely and minimize the environmental impact of fighting these fires. The IAFC thanks Senator Peters for introducing this bill, which will greatly assist airports in meeting these two needs.

• Edward A. Kelly, General President, International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF): “Firefighters dedicate their lives to protecting others. While saving others and making their communities better places to live, these brave men and women continue to be exposed to toxic PFAS-laden firefighting foams, putting them at higher risk of cancer and other serious health effects. This is unacceptable. The IAFF supports Senator Peters’ legislation to install foam containment devices on aircraft firefighting vehicles, and on behalf of our 326,000 members, I commend him for his continued efforts to help protect firefighters and the communities they serve from unnecessary exposure to PFAS. ”

• Jennifer Hill, Associate Director, National Wildlife Federation Great Lakes Regional Center: “We commend Senator Peters for finding creative solutions to limit the use of PFAS containing fire-fighting foam at airports here in the Great Lakes region through more affordable access to fire-testing equipment. ’emergency. The use of AFFF here in Michigan has resulted in PFAS contamination consumption advisories for deer, fish and wildlife, both in local communities and in the Great Lakes. PFAS contamination impacts the water resources, fish and wildlife we ​​enjoy as Michiganders – and has real consequences for the Great Lakes outdoor economy if we don’t work together, alongside affected communities, to address its sources.


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