Clean Water Action and Healthy Legacy Coalition Response to Minnesota PFAS Groundwater Contamination From Landfills
Statement of Deanna White, State Director for Clean Water Action and Director of the Healthy Legacy Coalition regarding PFAS in Landfill Leachate
This morning, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) announced that more than 50 closed landfill sites in nearly 40 Minnesota counties have per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) contamination in groundwater that exceeds the Minnesota Department of Health’s Health Based Values (HBVs). Of those sites, sixteen tested at more than 10 times the HBVs.
The MPCA’s announcement is very concerning, but unfortunately not surprising. For decades, we have used and discarded products that contain PFAS ‘forever chemicals’ for their water- and grease-resistant properties, such as weatherproof clothing, non-stick cookware, and especially food packaging.
Landfills are full of items containing PFAS. Unfortunately, PFAS chemicals don’t break down with these products when they enter our waste stream. Instead, as the rest of the product breaks down in the landfill, the PFAS chemicals are released into the environment threatening our soil and our water.
PFAS contamination is not just a problem for East Metro, communities close to airports, or communities with landfills. Wherever we test for PFAS, we will likely find it - and that is true across the country. Minnesota has a history of taking action to protect its citizens, and we need that kind of proactive mindset to tackle PFAS pollution.
We have a lot of work ahead of us to figure out how to address PFAS contamination in our communities. Giving the MPCA sufficient authority to begin to address the problem with closed landfills is one important step; we also need to prevent PFAS pollution before it enters our waste stream. Clean Water Action and Healthy Legacy have high hopes that in this year’s legislative session, Minnesota can proactively address one of the biggest sources of future PFAS contamination: food packaging.
HF 79 / SF 70 would prohibit the distribution, sale, or manufacture of food packaging containing PFAS chemicals, a major source of contamination. Minnesota’s PFAS Blueprint, released last month, identifies this type of legislation as a key part of preventing further contamination of compost sites, water treatment plants, and landfills across the state. The bill has been moving in the House but we are still waiting for hearings to be scheduled in the Senate.
Clean Water Action works at the national, state and local level to develop strong, community-based environmental leadership and bring together diverse constituencies to work cooperatively for policies that improve lives and protect water. Clean Water Action has been in Minnesota since 1982, focused on finding solutions to health, consumer, environmental and community problems and working to protect our water and our people. Learn more at http://cleanwater.org/MN
The Healthy Legacy coalition focuses on phasing out toxic chemicals that persist and build up in our bodies and environment. Clean Water Action and the 35 members of the coalition support protective state and federal policies which require chemicals to be assessed for safety so that public health and the environment are protected. The Healthy Legacy coalition encourages businesses to develop and use safe substitutes for toxic chemicals and educates and empowers people to protect themselves and their families by supporting healthy businesses and practices. Learn more at http://healthy-legacy.squarespace.com/