August 18, 2019

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Massachusetts Proposes Cleanup Standards for PFAS

MassDEP proposed groundwater cleanup standards for PFAS significantly lower than the federal health advisory as part of its long-expected proposed revisions to Massachusetts’ regulations governing the assessment and cleanup of contaminated properties. The proposed revisions to the Massachusetts Contingency Plan (MCP) became available on MassDEP’s web site on April 18, 2019, and include a series of important changes upon which we will report in the coming days. Interested parties may comment on any of the proposed MCP changes through July 19, 2019. In addition, five public hearings will be held in different locations across the state in May 2019.

States have led the effort to regulate PFAS compounds – per and polyfluoroalkyl substances consisting of several thousand man-made, inert substances. Most of the discussion nationwide regarding PFAS has focused on two specific compounds:

  1. Perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS).

  2. Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA).

That discussion is evolving and now often includes four additional PFAS compounds: 

  1. Perfluorodecanoic acid (PFDA).

  2. Perfluoroheptanoic acid (PFHpA).

  3. Perfluorohexanesulfonic acid (PFHxS).

  4. Perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA). 

The MassDEP has proposed to issue standards for these six PFAS compounds.

Reportable Concentrations

The proposed MCP revisions would set reportable concentrations for the six PFAS compounds for groundwater and soil, which trigger an obligation to report the release to the state. The proposed standards are:

 

GW-1
Possible Drinking
Water Areas

GW-2
All Other
Groundwater

S-1
More Accessible
Soil

S-2
Other Soils

Combined total of:

  • PFOA

  • PFOS

  • PFDA

  • PFHxS

  • PFNA

  • PFHpA

PFOA

PFOS

PFDA

PFHxS

PFNA

PFHpA

0.00007 mg/L

See individual 
components below.

See individual
compounds below.

See individual
compounds below.

See above.

40 mg/L

0.0002 mg/kg

0.4 mg/kg

See above.

0.5 mg/L

0.0002 mg/kg

0.4 mg/kg

See above.

40 mg/L

0.0002 mg/kg

0.4 mg/kg

See above.

0.5 mg/L

0.0002 mg/kg

0.4 mg/kg

See above.

40 mg/L

0.0002 mg/kg

0.4 mg/kg

See above.

40 mg/L

0.0002 mg/kg

0.4 mg/kg

Groundwater Cleanup Standards

The proposed MCP revisions would set “Method 1” cleanup standards for the six PFAS compounds for groundwater. Method 1 standards can be used at most sites by comparing exposure point concentrations to the standard. The proposed rule would set the following standards:

 

GW-1
Applies to Potential
Drinking Water Areas

GW-2
Applies to Areas
Near Structures

GW-3
Applies to All 
Groundwater in MA

Combined total of:

  • PFOA

  • PFOS

  • PFDA

  • PFHxS

  • PFNA

  • PFHpA

PFOA

PFOS

PFDA

PFHxS

PFNA

PFHpA

0.02 parts per
billion (ppb)

See individual
compounds below.

See individual
compounds below.

See above.

N/A

40,000 ppb

See above.

N/A

500 ppb

See above.

N/A

40,000 ppb

See above.

N/A

500 ppb

See above.

N/A

40,000 ppb

See above.

N/A

40,000 ppb

Soil Cleanup Standards

The proposed MCP revisions would also set Method 1 cleanup standards for the six PFAS compounds for soil. The standards differentiate between soil that is more accessible to people (e.g., S-1) and soil that is less accessible (e.g., S-3), and take into account potential impacts to groundwater. We provide below the proposed standards for the most accessible soils, S-1:

 

S-1 Soil in Areas
That Are GW-1

S-1 Soil in Areas
That Are GW-2

S-1 Soil in Areas
That Are GW-3

Combined total of:

  • PFOA

  • PFOS

  • PFDA

  • PFHxS

  • PFNA

  • PFHpA

PFOA

PFOS

PFDA

PFHxS

PFNA

PFHpA

0.0002 parts per
million (ppm)

See individual
compounds below.

See individual
compounds below.

See above.

0.3 ppm

0.3 ppm

See above.

0.3 ppm

0.3 ppm

See above.

0.3 ppm

0.3 ppm

See above.

0.3 ppm

0.3 ppm

See above.

0.3 ppm

0.3 ppm

See above.

0.3 ppm

0.3 ppm

These proposed revisions to the MCP do not address drinking water standards. However, MassDEP has indicated that it is working on a Maximum Contaminant Level for drinking water with the goal of issuing proposed regulations by the end of the year. However, this week MassDEP has sent letters to public water suppliers with levels above 20 parts per trillion (ppt) for the combined PFAS compounds, encouraging them to expeditiously lower the concentration of these PFAS compounds to below 20 ppt.

© 2019 Beveridge & Diamond PC

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About this Author

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

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. 

781-416-5713
Dylan King, Beveridge Diamond Law Firm, Boston, Environmental Law Litigation Attorney
Associate

Dylan maintains a diverse environmental litigation and regulatory practice, working with clients nationwide across industrial sectors. He has developed experience with solid waste facility siting, pipeline and hazardous material transportation regulations, site contamination litigation, and local zoning matters. Dylan joined the firm following his graduation from Vermont Law School with a certificate in Energy Law.

During his time at Vermont Law School, Dylan worked with the Vermont Law School Energy Clinic, helping clients develop solar projects. The clinic has a particular focus on building legal models that support and educate communities pursuing solar power ownership. He also acted as the Head Notes Editor for the Vermont Law Review and was selected to work as a Dean’s Fellow in the legal writing department, where he taught weekly legal writing seminars. In addition, Dylan served for two years as a Civil Procedure teaching assistant. In his first summer of law school, Dylan interned as a law clerk in the United States Attorney’s Office, District of Maine, in the criminal and appellate divisions.

781-416-5755