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EPA Releases PFAS Action Plan

On February 14, 2019, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its much-anticipated PFAS Action Plan. The Plan identifies short and long term actions EPA plans to take regarding per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), some of which could significantly affect compliance obligations and costs, enforcement actions, and litigation.

As part of the Plan, EPA reported that it has initiated the regulatory development process to list PFOA and PFOS as CERCLA hazardous substances. This action could dramatically expand the number of potentially responsible parties and cleanup costs at CERCLA sites. Because CERCLA sweeps in substances designated as hazardous under the other major environmental statutes, in addition to providing its own never-before-used mechanism to designate hazardous substances, EPA indicated it has already begun evaluating which federal environmental statute would best allow it to designate PFOA and PFOS as hazardous. EPA also plans to develop interim groundwater cleanup recommendations for PFOA and PFOS in 2019. 

EPA’s Plan also indicates it will move forward with the Safe Drinking Water Act’s (SDWA) Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) process for PFOA and PFOS by proposing a regulatory determination sometime in 2019. EPA will also evaluate whether a broader class of PFAS should be regulated in drinking water. The Plan indicates EPA also may use the full scope of federal enforcement, regulatory, and response authorities to address or prevent PFAS contamination, including, “the SDWA; RCRA sections 3004(u) and (v); 3005; 3008(h); 3013; and TSCA sections 5, 6, 7, and 8.” 

Although PFOA and PFOS were included in a previous round of testing pursuant to the Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule (UMCR), the Action Plan indicates that additional PFAS substances will be included in the next round of UMCR monitoring.

The Plan identifies a number of additional short-term actions related to PFAS, including data collection and sharing, risk communication, development of improved testing and treatment methods, and Significant New Use Rules under the Toxic Substances Control Act. The Plan also lays out long-term actions related to PFAS, including exploring listing PFAS to the Toxics Release Inventory and evaluating information around developing effluent limitation guidelines for PFAS and ambient water quality criteria for PFAS.

© 2019 Beveridge & Diamond PC


About this Author

Nessa Coppinger Environmental Attorney

Nessa focuses her practice on complex environmental litigation, including multi-district litigation and multi-party product liability.

Clients rely on Nessa to help them solve their most complicated, expensive, and intractable problems. She has led significant trial court and appellate matters, including federal appeals, to successful conclusion. She has experience with a range of high-stakes litigation, including mass environmental claims, coordinated litigation with federal government entities, class action, and single-party litigation. Nessa also counsels on and litigates matters...

Jeanine LG Grachuk, Environmental Litigation Lawye, Beveridge Diamond, Energy Permitting Attorney

Jeanine Grachuk’s practice includes environmental compliance counseling, environmental permitting of energy and brownfields redevelopment projects, and advice on managing environmental risk in complex transactions such as through environmental risk insurance.  Ms. Grachuk has experience with environmental issues arising within a variety of industrial sectors, including power generation, chemical production, and solid waste disposal. 

Dacia Meng Environmental Attorney

Dacie works with clients nationwide across industrial sectors on environmental litigation and regulatory matters. 

She clerked at the Special Litigation and Projects Division of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance, Office of Civil Enforcement, providing support on Audit Policy enforcement, the Energy Extraction Initiative, and multimedia civil enforcement actions. In this role, she drafted consent decree sections pertaining to Clean Air Act violations, made recommendations for New Owner Audit Policy cases, and wrote memos on...