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Bill would protect military personnel, families from harmful chemicals on DoD facilities

Rebecca Barnabi
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The Department of Defense PFAS Discharge Prevention Act would protect military personnel and American families from per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) released from Department of Defense (DoD) facilities.

According to a DoD report, at least 245 U.S. bases are contaminating or threatening to pollute drinking water for nearby communities, and hundreds more are likely at risk. The contamination is caused by various technologies used at DoD installations, particularly firefighting foam laced with the chemicals discharged during emergencies or training exercises.

Congresswomen Jennifer McClellan and Jennifer Kiggans of Virginia introduced the bipartisan legislation yesterday.

“PFAS contamination from our nation’s military and defense facilities poses a major threat to our hardworking military personnel, their families and residents in nearby communities,” McClellan said. “Exposure to toxic PFAS chemicals can result in adverse health outcomes and drastically impact the well-being of our servicemembers and everyday Americans. I am proud to introduce the bipartisan Department of Defense PFAS Discharge Prevention Act to empower the Department to take the necessary steps to effectively remediate PFAS contamination and protect public health.”

The Department of Defense PFAS Discharge Prevention Act would:

  • Require the Secretary of Defense to request permit revisions to allow for PFAS remediation through carbon filtration at DoD stormwater management outflows.
  • Mandate DoD use a small portion of remediation funding for PFAS testing onsite at DoD water management facilities to allow the Department to better capture PFAS before it flows into waterways off base.

“Access to clean drinking water should never be something our citizens have to worry about,” Kiggans said. “I’m proud to co-lead this important bipartisan effort to address this decades-old problem. By addressing the root of this problem, I’m hopeful that we can provide peace-of-mind to Americans across the country.”

Exposure to certain levels of PFAS may lead to reproductive issues such as decreased fertility or increased high blood pressure in pregnant women, developmental effects in children, increased risk of cancers, autoimmune disorders, hormone imbalances, high cholesterol, and obesity.

“The Department of Defense PFAS Discharge Prevention Act is a critical step forward to protect service members and communities across the country who are affected by toxic PFAS contamination from DOD sites. This bill will stop PFAS pollution before it enters our waterways and harms military families and communities downstream. Curbing this pollution at the source will also reduce the amount of PFAS chemicals that need to be cleaned up, allowing federal dollars spent on PFAS cleanup to go further,” said Geoff Gisler, Program Director, Southern Environmental Law Center. “The Department of Defense PFAS Discharge Prevention Act is a win-win: it will significantly reduce exposure to PFAS in the near-term, while addressing this toxic pollution in an efficient, equitable, and cost-effective way.”

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.