Local lawmakers are reacting to the latest step in a Washington battle that could impact contamination cleanup in the Horsham area.
The U.S. House of Representatives voted Friday to pass H.R. 535, the PFAS Action Act, which Rep. Madeleine Dean (D-4th) called a sweeping set of health and environmental reforms.
"In the face of a serious public health threat, Congress has acted. Over the last year, we have considered and passed more PFAS legislation than any previous Congress," Dean said Friday.
"This week’s PFAS Action Act marks our most comprehensive step to date," she said.
PFAS are per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances used in a range of consumer products and in firefighting foams on military installations, which have been linked to a range of serious health effects, including immunological disorders, infertility, and certain cancers.
Last week the federal government announced the U.S. Air Force had disbursed $2.8 million for permanent containment and filtration systems for surface water at the former Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Willow Grove, in partnership with the Warminster Municipal Authority.
Conditions in the PFAS Action Act passed by the House on Friday will require the federal EPA to mandate cleanup of contaminated sites, set air emission limits, limit new PFAS chemicals in the marketplace, identify health risks by requiring comprehensive health testing, reporting and monitoring of PFAS.
The act will also require establishment of a national PFAS drinking water standard for states, municipalities and towns to follow, and contains steps to hold polluters accountable, according to Dean, who is a member of the bipartisan Congressional PFAS task force.
"I am especially pleased to see parts of my bill, H.R. 2600, included; this legislation will require EPA to develop rules for safe PFAS disposal," Dean said.
U.S. Rep. Brendan Boyle, D-4th, said the bill package includes his requirement to implement enforceable regulations on PFAS, and called its passage "long overdue."
"I now urge the Senate to quickly vote on this bill. It’s time we rectify this ongoing crisis that has plagued families in my community and across the nation," Boyle said.
U.S. Senator Bob Casey said in a statement Friday the bill passing the house was "an important step forward towards providing much needed transparency, protection and justice" for families affected by PFAS contaminants.
"It was unacceptable that key PFAS provisions were excluded from last year’s defense and appropriations bills, and with House action on these provisions now complete, I will continue to press for a full Senate vote on this legislation. Affected communities deserve information and protections, and we must respond with the urgency that the situation demands," said Casey.
"I will also continue to hold EPA and DOD accountable, as EPA’s failure to issue a determination by the end of the year on whether to set a drinking water limit for PFOA and PFOS is an abandonment of the communities who cannot afford to wait for action any longer," he said.
Linda Finarelli contributed information to this story for MediaNews Group.