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Washington Continues Wide-Ranging Efforts to Address PFAS With Release of the Draft Chemical Action Plan

The Department of Ecology (Ecology) and the Department of Health have jointly released the Draft Chemical Action Plan (CAP) for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). The Draft CAP will be available for public comment through December 7, 2020. CAPs are advisory and do not themselves create new restrictions, but the recommendations in a CAP may lead to legislative or regulatory action. Interested stakeholders should take this opportunity to provide input to Ecology.

The Draft CAP builds on previous work by Ecology to recommend actions to study and address PFAS in the environment, including an Interim CAP in April 2018 and Preliminary CAP recommendations in May 2019. Through this work, Ecology has developed the following four broad categories of recommendations spanning multiple programs. 

Ensure safe drinking water

The Draft CAP recommends identifying sources of funding to mitigate PFAS in drinking water, with the long-term expectation that such costs will be reimbursed by responsible parties, if PFAS are classified as a hazardous substance under state or federal law. In addition to funding, the Draft CAP recommends technical support at PFAS contamination sites and studies to research health impacts.

Manage environmental contamination

There are currently no enforceable federal or Washington State PFAS standards. The Draft CAP recommends that Ecology act under the Model Toxics Control Act (MTCA) to develop soil and groundwater cleanup levels for PFOA and PFOS plus additional PFAS compounds, where appropriate. Ecology will also explore methods for investigation and cleanup.

Ecology currently addresses firefighting foam through the Firefighting Agents and Equipment Toxic Chemical Use law and will continue implementing that law. The CAP also includes recommendations for improved coordination with communities.

Reduce PFAS in products

Ecology’s Safer Products for Washington law requires Ecology to consider regulatory actions to reduce the use of priority chemicals in products and packaging. Carpets and carpet treatments were the first PFAS-containing product that Ecology identified for research. The Draft CAP recommends that Ecology proceed to determine by June 2022 whether safer alternatives for PFAS containing carpet products are feasible. That determination will be accompanied by proposed regulatory action to reduce exposure. 

The Draft CAP recommends that Ecology continue to identify additional sources of PFAS for a second Safer Products for Washington cycle. Products mentioned include:

  • Water-resistant clothing and gear

  • Nonstick cookware and kitchen supplies

  • Personal care products

  • Cleaning agents

  • Automotive products

  • Floor waxes and sealants

  • Ski waxes

  • Car waxes

Evaluate PFAS in wastewater treatment, landfills, and biosolids

The Draft CAP recommends evaluating PFAS in wastewater treatment plants, which has not yet been done on a large scale in Washington. Sampling is also recommended at landfills to test for PFAS in leachate, groundwater, and air emissions. Ecology will also evaluate biosolids but recognizes that data gaps exist and will focus initial efforts on developing analysis methods, rather than regulatory requirements. 

Next steps for the Draft CAP

The Draft CAP is part of a comprehensive plan to address PFAS in the state. Ecology has previously developed CAPs for PCBs, PAH, lead, PBDE, and mercury. Rulemaking is currently underway to address PFAS in drinking water, PFAS in firefighting foam is regulated by the Firefighting Agents and Equipment Act, and products are regulated bu a series of requirements including the Packages Containing Metals and Toxic Chemicals law, the Safer Products for Washington program, and the Children's Safe Products Act.

Ecology will host a series of public comment webinars on the Draft PFAS CAP in November. Comments can also be submitted by email at ChemActionPlans@ecy.wa.gov.

© 2020 Beveridge & Diamond PC National Law Review, Volume X, Number 294
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About this Author

Allyn L. Stern Environmental Attorney Beveridge & Diamond Seattle, WA
Of Counsel

Allyn brings over 30 years of insider understanding of government operations.

Her experience as former Region 10 Counsel at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) informs her deep policy, regulatory, and enforcement knowledge. Allyn draws on her breadth and depth of expertise to help clients comply with an array of environmental statutes and regulations applicable to their businesses, including Clean Water Act (CWA) and Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) permit approvals, risk management under the Clean Air Act 112(r), civil and criminal enforcement, Superfund cleanup...

206-620-3027
Casey T. Clausen Business Attorney Beveridge & Diamond Seattle, WA
Associate

Casey is committed to providing legal services that meet his clients’ business goals.

He has a genuine interest in learning about his clients’ operations and is passionate about working in an area of the law that involves a range of industries, complex scientific and technical matters, and delivering solutions that address real-world business concerns.

Casey joined Beveridge & Diamond following tenures as a Law Clerk for United States District Judge Lawrence E. Kahn and U.S. Magistrate Judge Daniel J. Stewart in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New...

206-315-4808
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