NEWBURGH – U.S. Representative Sean Maloney (D, NY-18) and local elected officials met Monday at Washington Lake, the site of the PFOS contamination to the City of Newburgh’s water supply, to announce new legislation he is proposing to put more stringent restrictions on all PFAS substances.
These are compounds commonly found in firefighting foam, where it was the culprit in Newburgh’s water contamination; but, it is also found in non-stick cookware, cooking sprays and other common items.
Maloney’s legislation, the PFAS Action Act, under the Toxic Substances Control Act, would require testing for all PFAS manufacturers and entities that process the material. It would also require the EPA to set testing requirements for all per- and PFAS substances, releasing those findings to the public.
There are 11 bills that fall under this act that will also contribute to protecting families, workers and banning certain household goods where the use of these substances could be dangerous.
However, Maloney said this new legislation is not looking for a complete ban on these substances, their processing, or manufacturing… at least not yet.
“It is not clear right now whether there should be an outright ban, or not. It’s one of the reasons why you want to do the research and the testing, but I do think you could list them as a hazardous material under SIRCLA, under the super-fund law, so that you could address contamination the way we do other hazardous materials. We know that much,” said Maloney.
“Not every material that can create contamination needs to be banned, you just have to handle it properly,” he said.
Maloney added that Newburgh’s situation was a major influence on the legislation and an example of how a diligent community can handle this type of crisis properly.
Mayor Torrance Harvey endorses the bill and said it reflects his commitment to public safety in Newburgh. “Public safety is our number one priority, and a lot of times, when we talk about public safety, we think of law enforcement. We don’t think of public safety in the realm of environmental issues, environmental issues such as: clean water,” said Harvey. “Clean water is a right, not a privilege,” he said.
Maloney said the legislation has bipartisan support; but, he added that there are many influential parties that have reason to not have this legislation passed and currently, he cited Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) as the gatekeeper to whether the legislation passes, or not.