June 09, 2021
New legislation includes $10 billion investment to protect military communities from toxic PFAS chemicals
(Washington, DC) – Today, U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) joined Senators Alex Padilla (D-CA) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) in introducing two pieces of legislation – the Clean Water for Military Families Act and the Filthy Fifty Act – that would direct the Department of Defense (DOD) to identify and clean up per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) at U.S. military installations with some of the highest detections across the country, including Pease Air National Guard Base in New Hampshire.
PFAS exposure has been linked to a number of serious health conditions, including cancer, liver damage, decreased fertility and increased risk of asthma and thyroid disease. The presence of PFAS substances in the drinking water supplies of hundreds of contaminated military sites across the country, including Pease Air National Guard Base in New Hampshire, jeopardizes the health, safety and well-being of service members, their families and adjacent communities. These two pieces of legislation would take important steps to address contamination in local drinking water supplies by these toxic chemicals.
“For too many of our service members and their families, PFAS exposure has exposed them to serious health concerns and anxiety. It is critical that we take every step necessary to prevent and remediate contamination by these toxic chemicals at the bases and communities where our military families live and work,” said Senator Shaheen. “I’m proud to introduce these two pieces of legislation with Senators Padilla and Gillibrand to help clean up military bases infected by PFAS contamination and protect the health and wellbeing of our service members and their loved ones. I urge members on both sides of the aisle to join us in this common-sense, urgently needed effort.”
“Service members put their lives on the line to make sure that we are safe, secure, and free, and it is unacceptable that many service members and their families are exposed to toxic chemicals on military bases here at home,” said Senator Hassan. “These bills will help more military families and surrounding communities have access to safe drinking water by increasing oversight and expediting the PFAS cleanup process. I will continue to work with my colleagues in the Senate to address PFAS contamination so that Granite Staters and all Americans have safe drinking water.”
The Clean Water for Military Families Act would require the Department of Defense to conduct investigations and remediate PFAS contamination at and surrounding DOD installations in the U.S. and state-owned National Guard facilities. Specifically, the bill authorizes a one-time, $10 billion investment for the investigations and clean-up to ensure military families have access to clean, pollutant-free drinking water.
The Filthy Fifty Act would help expedite the testing, cleanup, removal and remediation of PFAS at all U.S. military installations and State-owned National Guard facilities by setting testing and cleanup deadlines for PFAS remediation at the most contaminated DOD sites in the country. The bill establishes a list of “priority installations” with 50 bases in the U.S. that have among the highest detections of PFAS.
Read the text of the Clean Water for Military Families Act HERE.
A one-pager on the Clean Water for Military Families Act can be found HERE.
Read the text of the Filthy Fifty Act HERE.
Senators Shaheen and Hassan lead efforts in Congress to uncover the potential health effects related to PFAS contamination, respond to the chemical exposure and remediate polluted sites. Shaheen has fought to secure – which Hassan supported – consistent federal support for the PFAS health impact study that she established four years ago. Because of their efforts, Pease is serving as a model site for the nationwide study. The study at Pease is actively seeking participants. In February, Shaheen reintroduced bipartisan legislation with Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) to provide rural communities under economic strain during the COVID-19 pandemic with $1 billion in emergency assistance to repair, modernize and renovate failing water infrastructure. She has also championed legislation, the PFAS Testing and Treatment Act that Senator Hassan also cosponsored, that would provide substantial federal funding for PFAS remediation in drinking water, and groundwater, including private wells. In addition, Shaheen and Hassan joined a bipartisan group of Senators in urging Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen to allow state, tribal and local governments to use funds allocated through the American Rescue Plan to address contamination from PFAS, including in local water supplies. Last month, Shaheen asked leaders from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) about the agency’s efforts to address exposure to toxic PFAS chemicals in New Hampshire during a Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing. In April, the Senators joined their colleagues in passing the bipartisan Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Act, which included amendments added by Senators Shaheen and Hassan to address contamination in drinking water supplies from PFAS and other contaminants. Senator Hassan recently joined a bipartisan group of 11 senators in calling on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to set standards for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) found in bottled water to ensure that bottled water products are safe for drinking. In May, the bipartisan Comprehensive and Overdue Support for Troops (COST) of War Act of 2021 passed in the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee. It includes key pieces of Senator Hassan’s bipartisan bill, the Toxic Exposure in the American Military (TEAM) Act, which addresses health care and benefits for veterans exposed to toxic substances.