National PFAS Contamination Coalition Statement Re: Pruitt’s resignation
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 5, 2018
Contact: Shaina Kasper, Toxics Action Center, 802-922-4780
In response to the news that Administrator Pruitt is resigning, The National PFAS Contamination Coalition issues the following statements:
“This coalition is here to send a message that no matter who’s in charge at EPA, the PFAS crisis impacting drinking water for millions of Americans should be a top priority,” said Shaina Kasper, Vermont and New Hampshire State Director at Toxics Action Center, the New England-wide public health and environmental non-profit.
“We call on incoming administrator Andrew Wheeler to take the Environmental Protection Agency’s mission seriously and take a strong path of action pertaining to the PFAS crisis in our country,” said Cathy Wusterbarth, a community leader of Need Our Water (NOW) in Oscoda Michigan.
“It is great news for Americans who care about ethics in government that Administrator Pruitt will finally be leaving office. But we need to stay vigilant. There is no reason to believe that his successor will be any less ambitious when it comes to dismantling the rules our children and our communities rely on to keep them safe from harmful pollution,” said Joanne Stanton of Bucks-Mont People for Clean Water in Harleysville, Pennsylvania fighting PFAS drinking water contamination in the region.
“People who have been exposed and continue to be exposed to PFAS contamination will continue to expect the EPA to take a leadership role by holding polluters accountable and by prioritizing public health and the environment through a strong PFAS Management Plan. Impacted communities need much stronger regulations and a 1ppt drinking water standard for total PFAS,” said Andrea Amico of Testing for Pease, a community group fighting PFAS drinking water contamination at the Pease Tradeport in Portsmouth, New Hampshire
“It is critical that the EPA continue to host regional meetings in all impacted communities this summer to gather direct community input to help form the EPA’s PFAS Management Plan,” said Susan Gordon of Fountain Valley Clean Water Coalition, of Colorado Springs, who is currently working with the regional EPA office to finalize the plan for their Regional EPA PFAS meeting August 7-8.
Washington, D.C. — Today kicks off the the EPA’s National Leadership Summit on per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in Washington D.C., and a national coalition of communities who are dealing with the toxic crisis in their drinking water are demanding to be heard.
EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt convened the summit to bring together stakeholders to take action on PFAS, the family of chemicals found in non-stick, waterproof and stain resistant products, firefighting foam, and the drinking water of nearly 16 million people in 33 states. Representatives from state government, environmental agencies and national environmental groups across the country were invited to attend. Conspicuously absent are representatives from communities that are suffering from PFAS water contamination.
In light of last week’s news that White House staff and the EPA actively worked to suppress the release of a key study on the health effects of PFAS, community leaders from the National PFAS Contamination Coalition took to social media today using the hashtags #SeatAtTheTable and #PFAS to pressure the agency into being more transparent.
“Last week, we learned that the EPA suppressed a PFAS study. This week, they’re convening a summit on PFAS, and, out of millions affected, only ONE of us is allowed to attend on only ONE day to bear witness. How are we supposed to trust anything about this?” asked Kristen Mello, co-founder of Westfield Residents Advocating For Themselves (WRAFT), a group in Westfield, MA, working on PFAS water contamination in their town. “It’s our water and our bodies that are contaminated, and will remain so for years to come. We deserve to be part of the solution, and we deserve to see that study.”
So far, over 36 communities in 10 states have shared why they need a seat at the table through the campaign. Residents of PFAS contaminated communities in Alaska, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Michigan, Colorado, New York, North Carolina, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin are sharing why they need to be included. And the number is still growing.
“We drank polluted water for years without knowing it. Now it’s time for transparency,” said Laurene Allen, of the PFAS-focused community group Citizens for Clean Water in Merrimack, NH. “We want to know exactly how the EPA plans to clean up this public health catastrophe and we want to be part of the solution.”
There are no enforceable federal regulations on PFAS contamination and many experts believe that the EPA’s standards for how much of the chemicals can be in drinking water are too high. While the EPA found that 70 parts per trillion (ppt) is a safe level for PFAS in drinking water, states like Vermont have set their standards at 20 ppt. The study that the EPA suppressed is expected to reveal that standards should be even lower.
“It’s our water that’s contaminated and it’s our health that’s at risk,” said Emily Donovan from Clean Cape Fear in North Carolina. “The science being done and the policies being created are really about us, our health, and our communities, and we deserve a seat at the table.”
“In the United States, we pride ourselves on our democratic process. That means communities on the front lines need to have a seat at the table, always,” said Shaina Kasper, Water Program Director at Toxics Action Center.
The National PFAS Contamination Coalition is a network of impacted communities that formed last year. The group coordinated the social media action and is encouraging impacted communities across the country to participate by sharing why they need to be included in decisions on PFAS.
“The communities most affected by the science and policies should be centered in — not excluded from — the efforts to understand, remediate, and regulate these dangerous chemicals.” said Arnie Leriche as Community Co-Chair, Wurtsmith RAB in Oscoda, MI. “We demand to be part of the discussion that will affect our health, our water and our families for generations to come. It’s shocking to be left out.”
Toxics Action Center works side-by-side with communities to prevent or clean up pollution in New England. Learn more at http://www.toxicsaction.org.
National PFAS Health Study
(*Scheduled to be VOTED on early September!)
Since the Haven well was shut down in 2014 due to highly elevated levels of PFASs detected in the drinking water, Testing for Pease has fought for answers related to any possible health effects related to these highly persistent and bioaccumulative substances. There are several New Hampshire communities and other communities across the nation that are facing PFAS water contamination. Many of these communities surround active or closed military installations similar to Pease and PFAS water contamination has become a national, public health issue that needs ongoing attention.
Testing for Pease is dedicated to advocating for more answers to our health related questions and concerns and clean, safe drinking water for our community and others across the US. Legislative action is a critical component in safeguarding our water sources and protecting our health from pollutants. Our NH Congressional Delegation (Senator Jeanne Shaheen and Congresswomen Carol Shea-Porter and Ann Kuster), have co-sponsored legislation in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) (for Fiscal Year 2018) that would authorize the Department of Defense to fund a national health study for those impacted by PFAS chemicals at military installations. This study will help provide critical information for ALL people exposed to PFASs and bring future hopes of policy that will not only protect our drinking water, but will ultimately help protect us and our most vulnerable population – children.
Our work over the last few years has led us to build positive relationships with our state and federal legislators to raise awareness about the environmental issues and challenges that our communities are facing. As passionate and committed citizens, together we have joined forces with other community leaders across the US to make an impact on bringing awareness to the health and environmental impacts that PFAS chemicals have on our drinking water. We feel strongly that engaging our elected officials at the federal level is a critical way to protect and maintain healthy, quality water sources for our families.
WITH THAT COMMON OBJECTIVE IN MIND, WE NEED YOUR HELP!
We hope that you will join our efforts by signing on to aletter of support for a national health study. With the use of a crowd-sourcing tool, we have made this process fairly easy for you! Based on your location, the tool auto-populates the email address of the federal officials who represent your area. The body of the email is pre-populated with a support letter we drafted. All you need to do is click here to begin, personalize your letter where indicated and hit submit–that’s it!
We need to let our federal legislators know how important this national study will be in helping to identify possible adverse health outcomes as a result of our exposure and by contributing to the ongoing and evolving science of human health effects as a result of PFAS exposures. The results of this study will be a critical next step in protecting our families by providing us with the data we need to make proactive choices about our health.
IN CASE YOU WOULD RATHER SEND YOUR OWN LETTERS, THE LINKS BELOW WILL PROVIDE YOU WITH THE LETTER TEMPLATES AND THE APPROPRIATE CONTACTS TO ASK OUR FEDERAL REGULATORS TO SUPPORT THIS IMPORTANT LEGISLATION
Please use THIS LIST to contact the Senators in New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Michigan, New Jersey, West Virginia, Colorado, California and Washington and their appropriate staff to let them know why they should vote in support of the following NDAA bills/amendments and request the appropriations for their funding (*These legislators are especially important because these states have many communities impacted by PFAS.)
NDAA – Senate (S.1519): The CDC/ATSDR will commence a study on the human health implications of per- and polyfluoroalkyl
substances (PFAS) contamination in drinking water, ground water, and any other sources of water and relevant exposure vectors,
including the cumulative human health implications of multiple types of PFAS contamination at levels above and below health advisory levels.
*Also sending your letters to members of the Senate Appropriations Committee is important so that funding is secured to implement the study:
A list of those members can be found HERE.
NDAA – House (H.R.2810): This bill will carry out a study on any health effects experienced by individuals who are exposed to perfluorooctane sulfonate and perfluorooctanoic acid from firefighting foam used at military installations or former military installations, including exposure through a well that provides water for human consumption that the Secretary determines is contaminated with perfluorooctane sulfonate and perfluorooctanoic acid from such firefighting foam.
Montpelier, Vt. — The multinational corporation Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics agreed to dismiss the lawsuit against the State of Vermont challenging the perfluorooctanoic acid (“PFOA”) and perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (“PFOS”) groundwater standards. This new agreement between the State of Vermont and the potentially responsible company to uphold the state’s more stringent groundwater standards follows growing scientific evidence and escalating community concern regarding the toxicity of these chemicals even at very small concentrations.
In 2016, PFOA contamination was discovered in the groundwater and drinking water supply wells in the vicinity of the former Saint-Gobain manufacturing plant in North Bennington, Vermont, leading to the state of Vermont to designate a groundwater enforcement standard of 20 parts per trillion (ppt) for PFOA and PFOS, both toxic perfluorinated carbons known collectively under the umbrella acronym PFAS.
“The fact that the state of Vermont was sued because they were trying to protect their residents from getting sick from contaminated drinking water just shows how broken our chemical system is,” said Shaina Kasper, Vermont State Director with Toxics Action Center, a public health non-profit working with community groups facing the PFAS drinking water contamination.“We need to close the loopholes in our chemical use regulations, including national enforceable drinking water standards that are science-based for infants, children, and vulnerable populations, and for combined total of all PFAS. And in the meantime, we need to support state-level change for more health protective drinking water standards, and to close the loopholes in state chemical use so that this type of contamination doesn’t happen in the first place.”
“We also need a national campaign to demand answers about PFOA replacement chemicals to ensure that history is not allowed to repeat itself,” added Joe Kiger from Keep Your Promises Dupont a community group based in the Ohio River Valley fighting PFAS contamination and the subject of the documentary film The Devil We Know.
“Having Saint-Gobain dismiss this lawsuit in Vermont has huge ramifications for not just Vermont’s drinking water, but for community groups in New Hampshire, the rest of the United States, and the world,” said Andrea Amico, leader of the community group Testing for Pease. “We’ve been fighting here in New Hampshire for lower drinking water standards for the PFAS chemicals and the drop of this lawsuit marks a significant precedent for stronger PFAS regulations nationally.”
“While it is encouraging that the State of Vermont’s health guideline for PFOA and PFOS is no longer being challenged, there are lingering concerns,” said Dr. Laurel Schaider from Silent Spring Institute. “Recent studies suggest that lower levels of PFOA in drinking water may affect children’s immune systems and mammary gland development. We also know that there are over 3,000 PFAS chemicals on the global market, and most have never been tested for their impact on human health.”
“Ultimately, we need to move away from a chemical-by-chemical regulation and to a chemical class approach,” added Dr. Phil Brown from Northeastern University’s Social Science Environmental Health Research Institute which has been researching the social discovery of this contamination. “The narrow reach of this action also highlights the need for more comprehensive, precautionary chemical regulation capable of thoroughly evaluating classes of chemicals, and raises important questions about how classes of chemicals are delimited in environmental health science and regulation.”
In addition to filing the lawsuit against the state, Saint-Gobain also had a sheriff serve court summons to a number of Bennington residents who provided written comments on the new state drinking water health advisory level of 20ppt which said “You are being sued. The plaintiff has started a lawsuit against you.” While Saint-Gobain argued that this summons was not in fact suing residents but just the state of Vermont, the theatrics of the lawsuit do not go overlooked by those opposed to the corporate bullying.
“The lawsuit centered on Saint-Gobain’s challenge of Vermont’s groundwater enforcement standard of 20 ppt for PFOA and PFOS, which the company alleged was ‘not supportable by science,’” said Lizzie Tisher, staff attorney at the Vermont Law School Environmental and Natural Resources Law Clinic. “There is more than an adequate scientific basis supporting Vermont’s standard, and this lawsuit only delayed efforts to bring clean, safe drinking water to North Bennington. We hope this marks the beginning of Saint-Gobain working closely with concerned residents and the state to fully extend the municipal water line.”
This announcement comes just days after the State of Vermont came to a settlement agreement with the company Saint-Gobain to get a municipal water line extension for 200 of the residents in the North Bennington, Vermont area, many with drinking water contamination from PFOA and PFOS.
“It’s encouraging to me, as someone who lives in a city impacted by this type of contamination, to know that there are state leaders in Vermont taking a strong stand to protect their people’s water supply.” said Mary Ann Babinski, City Councilor in Westfield, Massachusetts and a member of the community group Westfield Residents Advocating for Themselves (WRAFT). “It is my hope that other leaders will take notice and follow this example. Our government should respond quickly and be proactive about this serious situation, to make sure they protect the people they govern. It is their responsibility to uphold people’s rights to clean water, no ifs ands or buts about it.”
To learn more about the PFAS contamination crisis, and to see information from a national PFAS conference held June 14-15 in Boston,please visit
As a group, we decided to form this network in order to:
– Better support local organizing for clean water and health protection by better sharing local campaign stories, information/data/facts, and connect to experts.
– Build a bigger movement of national change on these issues by working on state and national campaigns together for solutions and to build a collaborative and powerful force to take on big polluters