Press Release | October 26, 2023

New Congressional bill proposes protections from toxic PFAS pollution for military members, families, and communities

WASHINGTON— The Department of Defense PFAS Discharge Prevention Act introduced today in the U.S. House of Representatives would help protect military members and their families as well as surrounding communities from toxic PFAS or “forever chemical” pollution, according to the Southern Environmental Law Center. Led by Representatives Jennifer McClellan (D-VA) and Jennifer Kiggans (R-VA) and supported by a bipartisan group of original cosponsors, this bill would address PFAS in stormwater runoff at military bases by requiring the Department of Defense to monitor for and clean up these toxic chemicals. 

“The people who serve our country, their families, and the communities that host our military bases nationwide deserve protection from toxic PFAS pollution.” said Geoff Gisler, program director at the Southern Environmental Law Center. “Controlling PFAS pollution at the source is the most cost-effective, efficient, and equitable solution. This bill uses existing legal tools to do just that.”  

Stormwater runoff from military installations is a prominent contributor of PFAS pollution in drinking water sources and, until now, there has been little effort to control it. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, there are at least 272 DOD sites nationwide with known PFAS contamination and 371 sites with suspected contamination. Among the DOD sites with known or suspected PFAS contamination are:  

  • Norfolk Naval Base, Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Fort Monroe, and Camp Pendleton in Virginia;  
  • Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, Fort Liberty, Camp Lejeune, and Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point in North Carolina;  
  • Shaw Air Force Base, Joint Base Charleston, and Parris Island in South Carolina;  
  • Pease Air Force Base in New Hampshire;  
  • Griffiss Air Force Base and Hancock Field Air Force Base in New York; and 
  • Philadelphia Naval Shipyard and Carlisle Barracks in Pennsylvania 

PFAS are a class of thousands of man-made chemicals that have been linked to various cancers, reduced immune function, birth defects, and other negative health impacts.  

The Department of Defense PFAS Discharge Prevention Act would direct the DOD to regularly monitor for PFAS chemicals and implement best management practices to stop PFAS pollution from entering our water in the first place. The bill was cosponsored by Representatives Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Bobby Scott (D-VA), Mike Lawler (R-NY), Chris Pappas (D-NH), Nancy Mace (R-SC), and Deborah Ross (D-NC). 

According to Gisler, “This bill is a win-win: it will significantly reduce exposure to PFAS in the near-term and ensure taxpayer dollars used for cleanup are spent cost-effectively. Right now, we’re spending billions of dollars on PFAS cleanup without turning off the PFAS tap. This bill will reduce the amount of PFAS chemicals that need to be cleaned up, while keeping our troops, their families, and the communities that surround them safe and healthy.” 

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Kathleen Sullivan

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Phone: 919-945-7106
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