Connecticut Marks Third Anniversary Under State’s PFAS Action Plan

Dec. 19, 2022
The task force was charged with developing an action plan including a comprehensive strategy to minimize environmental exposure to PFAS for Connecticut residents and more.

State of Connecticut Press Release 

Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont provided an update on the work the Connecticut Interagency PFAS Task Force has accomplished to date to mark the third anniversary of the state’s PFAS Action Plan.

PFAS, or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, are a group of more than 12,000 manmade chemicals that have been widely used in household, commercial, and industrial products and processes since the 1950s for their water, oil, and dirt repellant and heat resistant properties. Some of the most studied PFAS chemicals do not break down in the environment and are harmful to humans and animals at very low levels.

In July 2019, following the accidental release of PFAS-containing aqueous film forming firefighting foam (AFFF) to the Farmington River, Governor Lamont directed the formation of an interagency workgroup chaired by the commissioners of the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) and the Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH) and composed of representatives from nearly twenty state agencies and entities.

The task force was charged with developing an action plan including a comprehensive strategy to:

  • Minimize environmental exposure to PFAS for Connecticut residents;
  • Minimize future releases of PFAS to the environment; and
  • Identify, assess and cleanup historic releases of PFAS to the environment.

“In the three years since we brought this group together and finalized our action plan, our state agencies have been hard at work to get a handle on this problem and identify and implement ways of getting PFAS out of our environment,” Governor Lamont said. “Even through the pandemic, our agencies have delivered on that plan, and rather than putting it on a shelf, have actively improved our understanding of where PFAS is located. We’ve implemented better standards for our drinking water, successfully removed most AFFF foam from our fire departments, we’ve taken steps to ban it as an additive in our food packaging, worked with public water systems on proactive sampling for PFAS and local communities to mitigate human exposure if found, and so much more. We still have a long way to go, but we’re much further along than when we started, and I commend our state agencies and their amazing leaders on their progress.”

“The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, the Department of Public Health, and our fellow task force partners have accomplished an incredible amount of work since 2019, implementing key recommendations from the PFAS Action Plan,” DEEP Commissioner Katie Dykes, who serves as co-chair of the PFAS Task Force, said. “PFAS is pervasive, and the work completed to date has provided us with crucial entry points and footholds into the issue that will enable us to continue to build upon this critically important work and protect the health of our residents and our environment. I’m grateful to the governor for leading this charge, and to our task force partners for their efforts to date and their continued collaboration going forward.”

“Just last spring, the Department of Public Health updated its drinking water action levels for PFAS, which reflect the evolving scientific evidence on their toxicity and are more protective of public health than the previous Connecticut action levels,” DPH Commissioner Manisha Juthani, MD, who also co-chairs the PFAS Task Force, said. “Connecticut’s drinking water action levels protect all residents, including sensitive populations, from adverse health effects due to exposure to PFAS in drinking water. This is just one recent example of the extraordinary work that has come out of this action plan.”

Some of the task force’s progress to date includes:

  • DPH updated drinking water action levels
  • Ongoing work with Public Water Systems to detect PFAS and implement measures to limit exposure
  • DPH established a new Emerging Contaminants Unit to implement PFAS action items
  • Public Act 21-121 requires the five bottled water sources that are located in Connecticut to be tested for emerging contaminants including PFAS
  • Testing for PFAS in fish
  • DEEP performing follow-up surface water, sediment, and fish tissue sampling to refine stream reaches of concern and identify sources
  • DPH issued fish consumption advisories to protect the public
  • DPH requires all new public drinking water sources to test for PFAS
  • DPH recommends all public water systems test for PFAS
  • 121 public water systems serving 1.7 million people have voluntarily tested their drinking water for PFAS
  • DPH administering EPA federal loan funds under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to assist in addressing PFAS related drinking water contamination
  • Utilized $2 million in state bond funding for AFFF Takeback Program and private well testing; $1.15M in bond funding committed for private well testing annually
  • Public Act 21-191 banned use of AFFF foam; bans PFAS as an additive in food packaging effective January 1, 2024
  • DEEP and DESPP initiated the AFFF Takeback Program (More than 35,300 gallons collected from more than 250 fire departments and safely disposed)
  • Completed regional foam trailer cleaning; new trailers in the process of being purchased
  • DEEP created a geographic information system map to prioritize sampling
  • Sampled private wells in Connecticut communities where PFAS has been found in nearby drinking water sources; provided bottled water and treatment systems where PFAS exceeded action levels; contamination source investigation underway in Killingworth
  • Sampled one-third of publicly-owned treatment works
  • Industrial wastewater discharge permit screening for new permits and renewals
  • DEEP and the Connecticut Department of Agriculture issued guidance on PFAS in biosolids for agricultural producers

Next steps include:

  • DPH PFAS testing at public water systems serving disadvantaged communities and vulnerable populations
  • EPA draft drinking water rule for PFOA and PFOS
  • Collaboration with academia
  • Utilize federal funding, including Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding, to help municipalities and public water systems address PFAS
  • Dispose of AFFF from about 400 fire trucks
  • DEEP focused sampling of private wells in high-risk areas
  • Continued communication, outreach, and education with communities, stakeholders, and the general public
  • Update remediation criteria and establish water quality criteria
  • Expand landfill monitoring
  • Continued surface water and fish tissue sampling

For more information on the Connecticut Interagency PFAS Task Force, click here.

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