On April 10, 2024, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will announce “maximum containment levels” of chemicals for certain per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) as part of its proposed rule requiring water systems to conduct remediation of PFAS from drinking water, a prominent Washington, D.C. environmentalist told The Driller.  

Ben Grumbles, the executive director at the Environmental Council of the States, said, “The announcement that it (EPA) will make tomorrow (April 10) is to finalize one specific and significant action under the Safe Drinking Water Act involving maximum containment levels for certain PFAS chemicals.”

EPA’s announcement “will drive a lot of action and need for funding to help states and utilities pick up the ball and try to achieve those new standards,” said Grumbles, who is also a former EPA assistant administrator for water.

PFAS are widely used, long-lasting chemicals, the components of which break down very slowly and are found in the blood of people and animals all over the world. On Feb. 1, 2024, EPA announced it is proposing two rules that target PFAS pollution across the U.S., with one rule modifying the definition of hazardous waste as it applies to cleanups at permitted hazardous waste facilities. This modification would ensure that EPA’s regulations reflect the authority of the EPA and of authorized states to require the cleanup of the full range of substances intended under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), including emerging chemicals of concern, such as PFAS, that may present substantial hazards, at permitted facilities.

The second rule would amend EPA regulations authorized by RCRA to add multiple PFAS compounds as hazardous constituents. According to the EPA, these PFAS would be added to the list of substances identified for consideration in facility assessments and, where necessary, further investigation and cleanup through the corrective action process at hazardous waste treatment, storage, and disposal facilities.

Those proposed rules have facilitated strong concerns by municipalities and water utilities that they would be solely responsible for the costs of conducting PFAS cleanup from water systems, and those costs would be passed on to consumers. 

EPA is making the announcement now because “they (EPA) have their PFAS strategic road map that was issued Oct. 18, 2021, and it has many different actions under many different federal environmental laws,” Grumbles said following a presentation he made at the National Association of Clean Water Agencies’ water policy conference in Washington. “They have many other actions yet to take (on PFAS) and some of those are going to take quite a while to do and may be challenging,” he added.