Gillibrand and Kildee lead colleagues in letter urging FAA to allow airports to switch to fire foam without PFAS – Oswego County today

Logo provided by Kirsten Gillibrand’s press service.

WASHINGTON, DC – This week, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Representative Dan Kildee (D-MI) led more than 50 of their colleagues to send a bipartisan letter to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) urging the agency to take action. immediate steps to allow US civilians at airports to use fire extinguisher foam without PFAS.

The FAA Reauthorization Bill of 2018 ensured that effective October 4, 2021, the FAA could no longer require civilian airports to use firefighting foams containing toxic PFAS chemicals. However, since the FAA has not authorized the use of any alternative foam without PFAS, has provided no information on the application of UL 162 performance requirements to fluorine-free foams at airports, or updated the current performance standard of military specifications, airports are not able to make the switch at this time. The letter clarifies that Congress’ original intention of Section 332 was to trigger FAA actions so that airports have the option to begin using fire extinguisher without PFAS by October 4, 2021.

Specifically, the letter asks the FAA:
Provide specific actions the FAA plans to take to enable airports to complete the switch to PFAS-free foam and propose a timeline for each action; and
Immediately allow all US civilian airports to use fluorine-free foam and give them the flexibility to meet standards used by international airports such as ICAO Level B.

“The contamination from PFAS runoff affects communities nationwide and is nothing less than a public health emergency,” said Senator Gillibrand. “It is essential that the FAA work quickly to truly enable our airports to use foams without PFAS. Immediate action is needed to protect both firefighters and those living near airports. “

“Instead of quickly adopting new standards that would allow airports the flexibility to use safer fire-fighting foams without toxic chemicals forever, the FAA is kicking the box. This is in violation of the clear deadline Congress gave in 2018 and a betrayal of communities near airports whose water has already been contaminated by decades of foam use. The FAA is far behind our international peers who have allowed PFAS-free fire-fighting foams at airports for years, ”said Melanie Benesh, legislative counsel for the Environmental Working Group.

“States are taking action against the dangerous PFAS foams that have polluted water supplies across the country, but they need a partnership with federal agencies like the FAA. The FAA should complete the work Congress asked it to do three years ago and end the use of PFAS foams at airports, ”said Liz Hitchcock, director of Safer Chemicals Healthy Families.

PFAS, formerly known as perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, are a class of toxic chemicals that have been linked to certain cancers, thyroid disease, reproductive problems, decreased immune function in children, and other serious adverse effects on health. PFAS are used as an ingredient in a special foam used for fighting fires called aqueous film forming foam (AFFF). The use of this foam, especially in training centers, exposes firefighters to toxic PFAS. Additionally, runoff from the use of AFFFs has been found to be a source of groundwater and drinking water contamination for communities near the facilities where it is used. Experts estimate that the drinking water supplies of more than 200 million Americans are contaminated with PFAS.

Senator Gillibrand has long fought to protect communities and firefighters from the toxic effects of PFAS. In 2019, she successfully fought to ban the use of PFAS chemicals in firefighting foams used on military bases.

The bicameral letter was led by Senator Gillibrand and Representative Dan Kildee (D-MI) and was also signed by Senators Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Alex Padilla (D-CA), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI ), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Jeff Merkley (D- OU), Ed Markey (D-MA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Gary Peters (D-MI) and Ben Ray Luján (D-NM) as well as representatives Madeleine Dean (D-PA), Mike Gallagher (R-WI) , Ann McLane Kuster (D-NH), Steve Cohen (D-TN), Fred Upton (R-MI), David Rouzer (R-NC), Andy Levin (D-MI), Ro Khanna (D-CA), Brian Fitzpatrick (R -PA), Bill Posey (R-FL), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), Ron Kind (D-WI), Michael R. Turner (R-OH), Jared Huffman (D-CA), Alan Lowenthal (D-CA), Grace Meng (D-NY), Don Young (R-AR), Chris Pappas (D-NH), Adam Smith (D-WA) , Debbie Dingell (D-MI), Mo ndaire Jones (D-NY), Peter Welch (D-VT), Derek Kilmer (D-WA), Deborah Ross (D-NC), Lloyd Doggett (D-TX), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Peter Meijer (R-MI), James McGovern (D-MA), Elissa Slotkin (D-MI), Nancy Mace (R-SC), Haley Stevens (D-MI), Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ), Kathleen Rice (D -NY), Donald Beyer (D-VA) and John Larson (D-CT).

To read the full letter, please see below.

Administrator Dickson:

We are writing to you today regarding the steps that need to be taken to allow airports to use fire extinguisher foam without PFAS. To clarify, the original intention of Congress of Section 332 of the Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Act, 2018 (PL # 115-254) was to trigger actions by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) of the states. -United so that airports have the possibility to start using PFAS. -free fire extinguisher foam by October 4, 2021.

PFAS, formerly known as perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, are a class of toxic chemicals that have impacted the lives of Americans across the country. PFAS have been linked to certain cancers, thyroid disease, reproductive problems, decreased immune function in children, and other serious adverse health effects. Experts estimate that the drinking water supplies of more than 200 million Americans are contaminated with PFAS.

We understand that the FAA, under the Biden-Harris administration, is working with the United States Department of Defense (DOD) to find an alternative to fire-fighting foam without PFAS, is researching the use of fire-fighting foam containing PFAS and uses technology to reduce releases of PFAS. in the testing of fire-fighting equipment. We know the Biden administration shares a commitment to addressing the PFAS contamination crisis and taking action to address this urgent public health emergency.

We were delighted to see that the FAA issued an airport alert on October 5, 2021, announcing that airport firefighting foam standards no longer require that the foam “be made from fluorocarbon surfactants” (that is, (i.e. foams must contain toxic PFAS chemicals), as required by Congress in Section 332. However, since the FAA has not authorized the use of any alternative foam without PFAS, provided information on the application of UL 162 performance requirements to fluorine-free foams at airports[2], or updated to the current performance standard of military specifications, airports are not authorized or able to make the change at this time. In addition, the only way for airports to meet current performance standards is to use foams containing PFAS. Therefore, we urge you to take immediate action to update the current performance standards requirements for civilian airports and ensure that airports are able to start using PFAS-free foam alternatives as soon as possible.

As members of Congress who represent communities affected by PFAS pollution from airports, we urge the FAA to act quickly to address this urgent issue. Any delay in updating the current performance requirements and authorizing a PFAS-free alternative will continue to exacerbate the potential contamination of groundwater and drinking water supplies by PFAS, endangering the health of those who use PFAS. reside in communities near airports.

Many airports around the world are already using fluorine-free foams at their airports. Some of the main international airports using alternatives without PFAS include: London Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted and City, Manchester, Paris Charles De Gaulle, Paris Orly, Lyon, Helsinki, Lisbon, Dubai, Brussels, Copenhagen, Oslo, Stockholm, Stuttgart, Dortmund , Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. Firefighting experts believe the military standards created by the US Navy are vastly oversized for fires on land and were designed more specifically for fighting fires at sea.

Therefore, we ask the FAA:

Provide specific actions the FAA plans to take to allow airports to complete the foam switch without PFAS and propose a timeline for each action; and
Immediately allow all U.S. civilian airports to use fluorine-free foam and give them the flexibility to meet standards used by international airports such as ICAO[4] Level B[5].

We look forward to working with you to resolve this public health and environmental issue. Residents of communities living near airports deserve immediate action. Swift action must be taken to protect them.

Thank you for your attention to this important matter.

Kirsten Gillibrand press release.


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