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Casey, Boyle, Fitzpatrick, Meehan Fight to Retain Progress on PFCs in Final Defense Authorization Bill

October 30, 2017
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – A bipartisan, bicameral group of Pennsylvania lawmakers including Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), Rep. Brendan Boyle (PA-13), Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-08), and Rep. Pat Meehan (PA-07) are urging House and Senate negotiators to include crucial water contamination language in the final Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).  In a letter addressed to the chairs and ranking members of the House and Senate Committees on Armed Services, the group pushed for support for their House and Senate-passed amendments to address the ongoing issue of water contamination by perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs) like PFOA and PFOS surrounding the former Naval Air Warfare Center in Warminster, the former Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base in Horsham, as well as the Horsham Air Guard Station. A House and Senate Conference Committee has been convened to produce one conference bill for the two chambers. The legislators are fighting to ensure their respective “wins” are included in the final conference bill, which will likely be enacted into law by the end of 2017.


“Water contamination as a result of the military’s decades-long use of AFFF is a nationwide problem that the Department of Defense must confront,” reads the letter in part. “A nationwide health study, increased funding for cleanup and community engagement, and accelerated progress towards identifying safer alternative firefighting foams are each vital steps in the right direction of addressing this serious, growing health threat. As representatives of some of the first communities dealing with this problem today, we ask for your support of our bipartisan, bicameral request for the FY18 NDAA conference bill.” 
 
The complete text of the letter is below.
 
The Honorable John McCain                                      The Honorable Jack Reed
Chairman                                                                        Ranking Member
Committee on Armed Services                                  Committee on Armed Services
United States Senate                                                   United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510                                               Washington, DC 20510
 
The Honorable Mac Thornberry                              The Honorable Adam Smith
Chairman                                                                        Ranking Member
Committee on Armed Services                                  Committee on Armed Services
United State House of Representatives                  United States House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515                                               Washington, DC 20515
 
Dear Chairmen and Ranking Members: 
 
As you negotiate the Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), we write to ask for your support of various provisions affecting communities in Pennsylvania that are dealing with contaminated drinking water as a result of the use of the firefighting foam Aqueous Film-Forming Foam (AFFF) at military installations nearby. Because of the broad scope of AFFF, which contains perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs) like PFOA and PFOS and is used by entities including the U.S military at more than 600 sites across the country, contaminated drinking water now poses a nationwide public health threat. A growing volume of peer-reviewed studies indicate serious human health risks associated with PFCs like PFOA and PFOS, including links to certain types of cancers and impaired immune system performance. We appreciate you working with us during each chamber’s NDAA process to make substantial progress addressing these issues, and ask for your continued support during the conference process.
 
For several years, Pennsylvanians living in communities near the Horsham Air Guard Station, former Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Willow Grove, and former Naval Air Warfare Center in Warminster have been living with too many questions and not enough answers about the use of AFFF and its impact on their local water quality. Our constituents deserve to understand what impact this contamination has had on their health and the health of their children. We believe that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) should conduct a comprehensive, nationwide study of the health effects of these contaminants, with support from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Department of Defense (DoD). We were pleased to see both the House and Senate NDAA adopt language to this effect, as well as the Senate’s action to authorize the more immediate interim step of biomonitoring at eight communities affected by the contamination. The House NDAA also includes language (Section 727) that would authorize DoD to enter into intergovernmental agreements to provide health screenings for conditions relating to PFOS and PFOA exposure in communities near formerly used defense sites that are the sources of contamination. We ask that the committee support authorization of a health study, health screenings and biomonitoring in the final conference agreement. 
 
Second, the Department of Defense has identified 393 active and former sites around the Nation where there was a known or suspected release of PFOS and/or PFOA. Through December 2016, the Department of Defense had already spent approximately $202 million on PFOS and PFOA sampling, analysis, and cleanup; $199 million of that was originally programmed for cleanup activities at other sites. As a result, both the House and Senate increased the authorization for funding of the relevant accounts for environmental restoration and cleanup in recognition of the significant anticipated cost associated with remediation and response as the DOD’s assessment of potential exposure advances. We ask that you support the most substantial increases possible to the following accounts:
 
Senate Action: 
Environmental Restoration – Navy: Section 14001 authorizes a $41.6 million increase.
Environmental Restoration – Air Force: Section 14009 authorizes a $20 million increase.
Operations and Maintenance – Air Guard: Section 14002 authorizes a $5 million increase. 
Operations and Maintenance – Navy Reserve: Section 14002 authorizes a $20 million increase.
 
House Action: 
Environmental Restoration – Navy: Authorization of a $30 million program increase for PFOS / PFOA remediation. 
Environmental Restoration – Air Force: Authorization of a $30 million program increase for PFOS / PFOA remediation.
The House Defense Appropriations Act for FY2018 (H.R. 3219) also supported these levels, with bipartisan floor vote of 256-169.
 
Finally, we firmly believe that the Department of Defense should accelerate its efforts to identify a safe, effective alternative to AFFF that meets the military’s performance requirements without the harmful PFOA and PFOS chemicals. We ask that you support Section 1060 of the House-passed NDAA, which requires a report on research and development progress as well as an assessment of how the establishment of a maximum contaminant level nationwide regulation under the Safe Water Drinking Act, rather than the current health advisory level, would impact DOD’s budget priorities, mitigation and cleanup activities, and research and development related to PFOA and PFOS.
 
Water contamination as a result of the military’s decades-long use of AFFF is a nationwide problem that the Department of Defense must confront. A nationwide health study, increased funding for cleanup and community engagement, and accelerated progress towards identifying safer alternative firefighting foams are each vital steps in the right direction of addressing this serious, growing health threat. As representatives of some of the first communities dealing with this problem today, we ask for your support of our bipartisan, bicameral request for the FY18 NDAA conference bill.
 
Sincerely,

Robert P. Casey, Jr., United States Senator

Brendan F. Boyle, Member of Congress

Patrick Meehan, Member of Congress

Brian K. Fitzpatrick, Member of Congress
 
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