Read the full article by Gregory B. Hladky (Hartford Courant)
“An ’emerging pollutant’ and the threat it poses to Connecticut’s public health and environment is likely to be a major issue for the 2020 General Assembly when it convenes on Feb. 5.Here’s everything we know about the chemical that has leaked into the Farmington River and its potential health risks »
There were multiple spills of thousands of gallons of hazardous PFAS firefighting foam that reached the Farmington River last year. High levels of this chemical pollutant have been found in drinking water wells in Greenwich, Willimantic and Enfield, and experts say PFAS is now leaking from old landfills around the state.
A state task force created by Gov. Ned Lamont has issued a series of recommendations to deal with these hazardous and widespread ‘forever chemical’ compounds. Some of those proposals could cost millions of dollars for things like statewide PFAS testing and pollution cleanup.
A Lamont spokesman said the governor is considering a series of executive orders with regard to PFAS contamination concerns.
‘The governor, along with our agencies, believe that much can be done through executive authority and that’s what’s being considered,’ Max Reiss, Lamont’s chief press aide, said in an email. He added that Lamont isn’t ruling out working with lawmakers to pass related legislation.
The co-chair of the legislature’s Public Health Committee, Rep. Jonathan Steinberg, D-Westport, is convinced the legislature will approve significant PFAS bills this coming session. ‘I don’t think this is all going to be done by executive order,’ Steinberg said.
Steinberg and the co-chair of the legislature’s Environment Committee, Sen. Christine Cohen, D-Guilford, said both their committees expect to be acting on PFAS-related bills in 2020.
Why does the General Assembly need to act on PFAS now?
There are growing concerns across the nation about how PFAS chemicals can impact public health and the environment. Research indicates that even tiny amounts of these compounds in drinking water can lead to various types of cancer, immune system and childhood development problems, high cholesterol, diabetes and other serious health issues.
PFAS compounds have been used in all kinds of industrial processes and consumer products, including cosmetics, stain-resistant carpeting and furniture, food packaging, microwave popcorn bags, pizza boxes and rainwear.
Connecticut officials and activists say the federal government has delayed serious action on PFAS for years, forcing states to set their own PFAS controls and safety levels. ‘Given the long time frame for future federal regulations governing PFAS exposure, use and disposal, state leadership in this regard is crucial,’ Gov. Lamont’s special task force stated in its November 2019 report.
A key issue is whether Connecticut should follow the lead of many other states and pass safety standards for these chemicals that are far tougher than the recommendations of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency…”