skip to main content
skip to newscasts

Thursday, November 30, 2023

Public News Service Logo
facebook instagram linkedin reddit youtube twitter
view newscast page
play newscast audioPlay

As climate change conference opens, one CA city takes action; Israel and Hamas extend Gaza truce by one day in a last-minute deal; WV could lose hundreds of millions in Medicaid funding.

view newscast page
play newscast audioPlay

An expulsion vote looms for Rep. George Santos, the Ohio Supreme Court dismisses lawsuits against district maps and the Supreme Court hears a case which could cut the power of federal agencies.

view newscast page
play newscast audioPlay

Congress has iced the Farm Bill, but farmer advocates argue some portions are urgent, the Hoosier State is reaping big rewards from wind and solar, and opponents react to a road through Alaska's Brooks Range, long a dream destination for hunters and anglers.

Analysis: Pentagon PFAS Cleanup Backlog Growing Faster than Funding

play audio
Play

Friday, May 19, 2023   

A new analysis from the nonprofit Environmental Working Group said the Department of Defense is not doing enough to clean up contaminated military installations, and as new sites are identified a large backlog is developing.

Many of the sites are contaminated with per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances or PFAS, sometimes called 'forever chemicals' because they don't break down in the environment and accumulate over time. PFAS have been in use since the 1940s and are found in many nonstick and waterproof consumer products.

On military bases one of the most common applications of PFAS has been in firefighting foam. PFAS are known to be toxic, and at many current and former military installations are affecting groundwater and drinking water.

The Defense Department has identified 700 known and suspected military contamination sites.

Jared Hayes, senior policy analyst for the Environmental Working Group, said the funding is not keeping up with the backlog.

"Since 2016, DoD's own estimates show the cleanup backlog has soared to $31 billion and growing," Hayes pointed out. "That's up by $3.7 billion in that time frame. Yet the DoD's appropriated cleanup budget increased just $400 million over that same period."

He argued funding at current levels cannot catch up to the rising cleanup obligations. A 2018 Defense Department report identified four sites in Maryland with PFAS groundwater contamination. Four additional contaminated sites have been identified in the years since. Congress has mandated all military facilities complete site assessments and inspections by the end of this year.

The EPA recently proposed a new safe drinking water standard for PFAS at 4 parts per trillion. In 2017, groundwater was tested at drinking water supply wells near Fort Meade and the results showed PFAS levels up to 87,000 parts per trillion.

With so many installations in similar or worse circumstances, Hayes sees costs rising dramatically as new sites are assessed.

"We estimate that it could cost tens of billions of dollars, and that's on top of the $31 billion that's already in the backlog," Hayes reported. "We're looking at a lot of time that's going to be needed to clean up contamination if funding is kept at the current levels. So really, funding needs to increase to match what's going on, what's happening on the ground and communities across the U.S."

Studies have linked PFAS exposure to various health problems, including developmental delays in children, immune system suppression, hormonal disruption, and an elevated risk of certain cancers.


get more stories like this via email

more stories
The Economic Policy Institute found the number of child labor law violations increased from 1,012 in 2015 to 3,876 in 2022. (Adobe Stock)

Social Issues

play sound

A bill in Congress with a Connecticut House sponsor aims to reduce child labor in the United States. Called the "Children Harmed in Life-Threatening …


Social Issues

play sound

As the opioid crisis continues, more New Hampshire grandparents are seeking financial help to raise their grandchildren. Already struggling with the …

Social Issues

play sound

As of Jan. 1, insulin will become a lot more affordable for many Nebraskans, and those who have come to rely on telehealth visits are more likely to …


Extremes of hot and cold weather have taken their toll on a concrete barrier along Binghamton's Riverwalk. Concrete crumbles between the stones of the wall in upstate New York. (Chet Wiker/Adobe Stock)

Environment

play sound

Some state and local lawmakers are on a long list calling on New York Gov. Kathy Hochul to require big oil companies to help offset the costs of …

Environment

play sound

Utilities and government agencies in the U.S. are carrying out plans to transition to cleaner electricity sources. To avoid being left behind…

More than 45,000 Washingtonians are diagnosed with diabetes each year, according to estimates. (Chinnapong/Adobe Stock)

Health and Wellness

play sound

November has been Diabetes Awareness Month - but heading into the holidays, people who are diabetic know they can't lose their focus on keeping it in …

Environment

play sound

Conservation groups are celebrating a long-fought battle to protect the dwindling population of wolverine in the Northwest and northern Rockies…

Environment

play sound

As world leaders gather in Dubai for the international conference on climate change, the City of Long Beach is acting on multiple fronts to help the …

 

Phone: 303.448.9105 Toll Free: 888.891.9416 Fax: 208.247.1830 Your trusted member- and audience-supported news source since 1996 Copyright 2021