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PFAS Community Engagement Event Wraps Up in Horsham, PA

EPA Working and Listening Sessions Draws over 300 Participants

07/25/2018
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Horsham, PA – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) wrapped up the latest per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) community engagement in Horsham, Pennsylvania at Hatboro-Horsham High School. With more than 300 attendees, the community engagement event gave EPA the opportunity to hear directly from Pennsylvania communities on how to best help address this important issue.

“Understanding and addressing emerging contaminants, including PFAS, is difficult but critically important,” said EPA Mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator Cosmo Servidio. “The experiences, insight and perspectives shared at today’s sessions from community members and our panels of federal, state and local officials will be invaluable as EPA develops a plan to manage PFAS.”

Most importantly, EPA heard directly from the public at the listening session. Around 50 individuals spoke about their experiences, concerns, and suggestions on PFAS. Using information from the National Leadership Summit, public docket, and community engagement events, EPA plans to develop a PFAS Management Plan for release later this year.

Prior to the listening session, EPA held a working session with federal, state, and local partners. The programming consisted of a presentation on ongoing EPA PFAS research, a federal panel discussion with our partners at the U.S. Department of Defense and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, and other panels with Mid-Atlantic state regulators, local government township officials, water authorities, and community groups.

“This type of cooperation between federal and state environmental regulators is vital to understanding the dangers posed by contaminants like PFAS. WVDEP is committed to work with the EPA to do all we can to protect the health of the citizens of West Virginians and make sure our drinking water supplies are safe,” said West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection Deputy Secretary Scott Mandirola.

“Pennsylvania’s public natural resources are the common property of all the people, including generations yet to come. As trustee of these resources, the Commonwealth shall conserve and maintain them for the benefit of all the people.  As an agency of the Commonwealth, we welcome the resources of the EPA and other federal agencies in aiding our mission of restoring pure water sources for residents affected by PFAS contamination,” said Warminster Township Municipal Authority General Manager Timothy Hagey.

“Horsham Township is very pleased with today’s opportunity for its citizens to both learn more about PFAS and to provide input and recommendations to EPA personnel leading the effort to address and clean-up the PFAS contamination in our community,” said Horsham Township Manager William Walker.

Overall, the community engagement event encouraged Pennsylvania community members to voice concerns and provide input to EPA. Public engagement of this nature is incredibly valuable to the development of EPA’s understanding of PFAS chemicals in the Mid-Atlantic region.

Citizens are also encouraged to submit written statements to the public docket at https://www.regulations.gov/ enter docket number: OW-2018-0270. A summary of the Horsham, PA community engagement event will be made available on the PFAS Community Engagement website following the event.

Addressing PFAS is a national priority. At the historic PFAS National Leadership Summit in Washington, D.C. in May, EPA announced the following four-step action plan:

  1. EPA will initiate steps to evaluate the need for a maximum contaminant level (MCL) for PFOA and PFOS. We will convene our federal partners and examine everything we know about PFOA and PFOS in drinking water.
  2. EPA is beginning the necessary steps to propose designating PFOA and PFOS as “hazardous substances” through one of the available statutory mechanisms, including potentially CERCLA Section 102.
  3. EPA is currently developing groundwater cleanup recommendations for PFOA and PFOS at contaminated sites and will complete this task by fall of this year.
  4. EPA is taking action in close collaboration with our federal and state partners to develop toxicity values for GenX and PFBS by this summer.

Background

PFAS is a group of man-made chemicals that have been widely used in everyday products since the 1940s. But PFAS compounds also can enter the environment, raising concerns about the potential environmental and health risks. PFAS have been detected in groundwater in some Mid-Atlantic communities.

Horsham, PA marks the second community engagement event following the event in New Hampshire last month. Throughout the summer, EPA will visit and similarly engage with additional communities across the country including Colorado Springs and North Carolina in the coming weeks. Information on these upcoming sessions will also be available on EPA website.