Read the full article by Sharon Lerner (The Intercept)
“A waste management company received millions of pounds of waste containing toxic firefighting foam and other materials contaminated with the industrial chemicals known as PFAS in 2020 yet did not report it to the Environmental Protection Agency, according to public records.
US Ecology, a hazardous waste company with dozens of sites around the U.S., received 11,638,732 pounds of waste containing the firefighting foam known as aqueous film-forming foam, or AFFF, at its facility in Beatty, Nevada, in 2020, according to public reports filed under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. The company has also received, and did not report, waste containing AFFF at its facilities in Robstown, Texas, and Grand View, Idaho. It is unclear whether the company’s failure to disclose the waste violated the law or whether it was legal under a loophole in the reporting requirement.
US Ecology referred questions for this story to Republic Services, a waste management company that acquired US Ecology in May. Republic Services did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
AFFF — which has been used for decades by firefighters in the military, airports, and other settings to put out jet fuel fires — contains PFAS chemicals that have been detected in drinking water across the country, as The Intercept was the first to report in 2015. (At the time, PFAS chemicals were known as ‘PFCs.’) PFAS have also been used to make Teflon and hundreds of other products, and some of the compounds have been shown to cause health problems, including immune deficiency, cancer, liver damage, thyroid disease, decreased fertility, obesity, hormonal irregularities, and high cholesterol.
In 2019, as the public became increasingly aware of the health risks from widespread water and soil contamination from PFAS, Congress passed the National Defense Authorization Act, which required the EPA to add certain PFAS compounds to the Toxics Release Inventory, or TRI, a public EPA database to which companies must legally report if they have ‘manufactured, processed, or otherwise used’ certain chemicals. There are now 180 PFAS compounds on the list.” …