On December 5, 2022, the EPA released a memo providing direction under the NPDES permitting program to empower states to address known or suspected discharges of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). Note that the list of Applicable Industrial Direct Discharges (page 2, paragraph A.1) includes landfills. The memo cites state programs in Michigan and North Carolina that other states may want to replicate. These approaches and others could help reduce PFAS discharges by working with industries, and the monitoring information they collect, to develop facility-specific, technology-based effluent limits.
As stated in its memo, the EPA’s goal is to align wastewater and stormwater NPDES permits and pretreatment program implementation activities with the goals in EPA’s PFAS Strategic Roadmap. The memo recommends that states use the most current sampling and analysis methods in their NPDES programs to identify known or suspected sources of PFAS and to take actions using their pretreatment and permitting authorities, such as imposing technology-based limits on sources of PFAS discharges.
The Agency hopes to obtain comprehensive information by monitoring the sources and quantities of PFAS discharges, informing other EPA efforts to address PFAS. The EPA will need this information since new technologies and treatments are in development but remain unproven to work successfully in specific industries.
Other proposed actions by the Agency include designating two PFAS as Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) hazardous substances and an order under EPA’s National PFAS Testing Strategy requiring companies to conduct PFAS testing and nationwide sampling for 29 PFAS in drinking water starting in 2023.
In a letter to Congress, SWANA and NWRA associations request that regulation under CERCLA for addressing PFAS contamination assign environmental cleanup liability to the industries that created the pollution in the first place. Both associations note that landfills and solid waste management, an essential public service, do not manufacture nor use PFAS. Therefore, the general public should not be burdened with CERCLA liability and costs associated with mitigating PFAS from groundwater, stormwater, and wastewater.