November 16, 2021

PFAS Strategic Roadmap

Per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) have been manufactured and used in many industries since the 1940s and are still used today. PFAS contamination has been found in surface water, groundwater, soil, and air. EPA has acknowledged the complexities of this issue and devised a plan with its PFAS Strategic Roadmap. The roadmap discusses an integrated approach to regulate PFAS focused on three directives: research, restrict, and remediate. EPA’s commitment to action from 2021 to 2024 is outlined in the roadmap and is also summarized on EPA’s webpage on the PFAS Roadmap.

In terms of remediation and restriction, the agency recognizes that cleanup of PFAS-contaminated sites is not a sufficient long-term solution to this problem, so they will also regulate PFAS upstream to prevent future contamination. Actions contemplated by the strategy illustrate the breadth of EPA’s approach, including:

Although the PFAS roadmap approaches the PFAS issues with manageable actions and timelines, the agency is just beginning to address the problem. It is worth noting that RCRA was not one of the statutes included in the PFAS roadmap, considering that proper management of PFAS wastes is a concern.

Interestingly, on a parallel track, the state of New Mexico petitioned EPA to regulate PFAS as hazardous waste when disposed. On October 26, 2021, EPA announced it would act on the petition with two new rules. First, the agency will add PFAS to the list of hazardous constituents in Part 261, Appendix VIII, which is the first step in regulating PFAS as hazardous waste. Second, EPA will clarify that the RCRA corrective action program has the authority to address any waste that meets the statutory definition of “hazardous waste,” regardless of whether the waste has been formally listed as hazardous. This rule would apply to any emerging contaminant, like PFAS.

 


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This document addresses issues of a general nature related to the federal RCRA regulations. Persons evaluating specific circumstances dealing with the RCRA regulations should review state and local laws and regulations, which may be more stringent than federal requirements. In addition, the assistance of a qualified professional should be enlisted to address any site-specific circumstances.