EPA’s PFAS Strategic Roadmap Sets Broad and Ambitious Goals | King and Spalding


Short and long term goals are expected to impact a wide range of industries

On October 18, 2021, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its PFAS Strategic Roadmap: EPA Commitments for Action 2021-2024. For the first time under the Biden administration, the roadmap expands the agency’s 2019 action plan policies and accelerates its timeline with separate goals and benchmarks between 2021 and 2024. In plain language, the agency intends to “leverage the full range of authorities” through a series of key actions that take direct action towards the regulation of PFAS under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), Resource Conversation and Recovery Act (RCRA), Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA), Safe Drinking Act Water Act (SDWA) and Clean Water Act (CWA). EPA’s agency-wide strategy focuses on goals to meet three main goals: seek, restrict, remedy.

Who will be affected by the plan? In short, everyone. This will impact PFAS manufacturers, companies that use PFAS in their products (metal finishing, papermaking, carpet and textiles), wastewater and drinking water services, airports and other facilities. who use the Aqueous Film Forming Form (AFFF), credit institutions and financial institutions. with industrial customers, private equity firms that buy and sell companies using PFAS now or in the past, and manufacturers and importers of products that inadvertently contain PFAS in their products.

Key short-term goals with imminent impact

While the plan has many goals, we wanted to highlight a few of the key goals:

  • Research – The Bureau of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention has already issued a national PFAS testing strategy and by the end of 2021, it plans to issue the first round of TSCA § 4 testing orders, requiring companies to conduct and fund studies on 24 PFAS. Also before the end of 2021, the EPA plans to release the Final Rule of the Fifth Rule for Monitoring Unregulated Contaminants (UCMR 5). As proposed, UCMR 5 would undertake nationwide monitoring for 29 PFAS for regulation under the SDWA. Since the information serves as the foundation for the roadmap goals, these and other research goals aim to achieve an exponential expansion of data and public knowledge on the presence and effects of PFAS.
  • Restrict – In spring 2022, the EPA intends to propose better reporting of information required under the TSCA by designating PFAS on the TRI list as “chemicals of concern” and removing certain notification exemptions. This target will significantly increase the number of companies required to report and notify PFAS under the TRI, providing the EPA and the public with a wider range of restriction targets under permits and other regulations.
  • To correct – In the spring of 2022, the EPA plans to propose the designation of PFOA and PFOS as hazardous substances under CERCLA, with the intention of finalizing the designation by summer 2023. The long-awaited designation will initiate a series of actions under CERCLA, including sampling and response activities, potential reopening of Superfund sites. The designation will also trigger reporting of PFOS and PFOA releases in excess of the reportable amounts for any facility, and it will also give states more regulatory and enforcement powers.

Purpose of the research – Additional objectives

EPA’s approach to addressing PFAS begins by expanding information on existing levels of PFAS in the environment through reporting and monitoring, identifying the risks and effects of PFAS on human health and environment, and developing technologies to reduce potential impacts.

Objectives with potential short-term impact

  • Categorization of PFAS for winter 2021 hazard assessment and elimination technologies.
  • Preparation of a draft method for the analysis of total adsorbable fluorine for wastewater.
  • Categorization of PFAS for winter 2021 hazard assessment and elimination technologies.
  • Publication in the coming months of the final toxicity assessment of GenX chemicals (hexafluoropropylene oxide dimeric acid and its ammonium salt).

What to expect later in 2022

  • The first national study of PFAS in fish tissue in US lakes to understand which PFAS are present in fish tissue and identify where this presence is concentrated.
  • Completion and publication by autumn 2022 of a multi-laboratory validation of the analytical method for environmental media developed in collaboration with the Ministry of Defense (DOD), followed by promulgation within the framework of the CWA.
  • Ongoing activity to create the technical infrastructure for the monitoring, mitigation and monitoring of the fate and transport of air emissions of PFAS, aiming to assess mitigation options under the CAA by fall 2022 .

What to expect in 2023 and beyond

  • Finalization of risk assessment for PFOA and PFOS in biosolids by winter 2024.
  • Development of toxicity assessments for PFBA, PFHxA, PFHxS, PFNA and PFDA.
  • Work of the Research and Development Office to develop and validate methods for the detection and measurement of PFAS in the environment.
  • Drinking water monitoring analytical methods and aquatic life and human health criteria guidelines for PFOA and PFOS completed by the end of 2024.

Limit Goal – Additional Goals

In addition to continuing research and development on the presence and effects of PFASs, the EPA has established goals focused on preventing PFASs early on from entering the environment and supply chains.

Objectives with potential short-term impact

  • The EPA plans to issue health notices for GenX and PFBS in the spring of 2022.
  • A careful review of the new PFAS, including voluntary and other efforts to eliminate low volume exemptions review of Section 5 of the TSCA.
  • Leverage existing NPDES permits to incorporate monitoring, limitations and other practices for wastewater effluent and stormwater discharges at facilities where PFAS is suspected, as well as new guidance to responsible state authorities authorizations to process the new PFAS in the new permits.

What to expect later in 2022 and beyond

  • No more “significant new use” designations for discontinued uses and new PFAS in summer 2022.
  • Finalization of the TSCA Section 8 PFAS reporting rule by the end of 2022.
  • Issue of a draft national regulation on primary drinking water for PFOA and PFOS in the fall of 2022 (to be finalized in the fall of 2023).
  • Decision-making on the Effluent Limiting Guidelines (ELG) for industrial discharges under the PFAS Action Bill of 2021 will begin in fall 2022 and continue until the end of 2024 .

Corrective objective – Additional objectives

Building on the advances of the Research component discussed above, the roadmap foresees an acceleration of voluntary and regulated clean-up efforts for existing downstream PFAS contamination.

Objective with potential short-term impact

  • Publication in the spring of 2002 of an advance notice of regulatory proposal seeking public input on the designation of PFAS (in addition to the previous designation of PFOS and PFOA) as hazardous substances under CERCLA.
  • Use enforcement actions to deal with past and continuing versions of PFAS.

What to expect in 2023 and beyond

  • Interim guidance on the destruction and disposal of PFAS and certain identified non-consumer materials containing PFAS by fall 2023.

As part of the overall approach of the strategic roadmap on PFAS, EPA also plans to collaborate with the public to assess impacts on affected communities, disseminate information on PFAS and risks, and provide each year a public progress report. As with many recently announced plans and strategies, EPA aims to view the roadmap process and actions through an environmental justice lens to ensure equitable benefits for disadvantaged communities.

Additionally, although the roadmap focuses on regulatory actions, the information and activities are likely to lead to new litigation and increased litigation, which could arise quickly in several areas. On the one hand, litigants will likely seek to use drinking water standards in the ever-growing area of ​​class action lawsuits over contamination. These lawsuits quickly expanded to include a larger group of industries and defendants and allege that the manufacture and disposal of the products contaminated drinking water sources. Likewise, the designation of PFASs as hazardous substances will give plaintiff lawyers additional grounds to prosecute entities, whether or not they manufacture PFAS. Claims are likely to include: (a) groundwater and possibly soil remediation; (b) medical surveillance; and (c) the value of lost or impaired property. In addition, various groups may attempt to use these new standards to bring civil lawsuits against citizens.

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