Tackling PFAS with Superfund law risks shifting costs to public

Read the full story at Bloomberg Law.

The EPA’s plan to speed Superfund cleanups of two “forever chemicals” to make polluters rather than taxpayers foot the bill raises concerns that the law’s limited flexibility will shift the burden of costs back to communities, attorneys and groups representing public services say.

The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act can force companies that have dumped the chemicals on land or in water to pay to remediate the sites, said Amanda E. Aspatore, general counsel for the National Association of Clean Water Agencies representing publicly owned wastewater treatment facilities.

But CERCLA’s sweeping liability provisions, few exemptions, and opportunities for one potentially responsible party to sue others in an attempt to share cleanup costs means “companies who didn’t cause problems” can be impacted, Aspatore said.

EPA’s regulation “would put every [water] utility in the country at risk of liability” for the two per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) substances discharged to the plant from upstream industries, landfills, and even toilets, she said.

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