Sen. Tom Carper on June 13 reiterated his call for Congress to pass legislation that would address per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances contamination after being informed by the Department of Defense that the U.S. Air Force has needed to divert more than $66 million from several projects across the country to instead go toward investigation and mitigation efforts related to perfluorooctane sulfonate and perfluorooctanoic acid contamination.

The Air Force has diverted $66,604,206 away from 26 projects — including more than $37 million diverted from a landfill cap repair and soil investigation and remediation project in Alaska, $8.6 million from a radiological cleanup in Texas and almost $1.5 million from a munitions response investigation and soil removal project that included asbestos abatement in Illinois, according to the DOD.

The letter from DOD released by Carper comes in response to the letter sent to DOD, led by Senate Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Sen. Jack Reed, D-Rhode Island, along with Carper, Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Ranking Member Sen. Gary Peters, D-Michigan; and Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Ranking Member Sen. Patty Murray, D-Washington. The letter requested a list of all diversions, or planned diversions, of funds intended for a site cleanup of non-PFAS contamination to PFAS clean-up efforts.

“Congress needs to ensure that the Department of Defense has the resources needed to fully address its millions of dollars — perhaps billions of dollars — in liabilities related to the DOD-related PFAS contamination in our communities. Otherwise, the DOD will just keep robbing Peter to pay Paul by putting important projects on standby and stretching budgets to clean up PFAS contamination,” said Carper. “We also need to understand that this problem is not just a money matter.”

“There are a number of ways that Congress must begin tackling this multifaceted problem,” said Carper. “For starters, Congress should declare PFAS as hazardous substances under the Superfund law. That would greatly reduce the slow bureaucracy that so often prolongs the process for cleaning up contaminated sites, which just creates more anxiety for communities concerned about known or potential contamination.”

In March, Carper, Reed, Peters and Murray sent four letters to the EPA, DOD, Office of Management and Budget and the Department of Health and Human Services requesting all documents and communications between the agencies related to the interagency review of EPA’s February “PFAS Action Plan” and EPA’s groundwater cleanup guidelines for PFAS.

The letter from the DOD is available at bit.ly/2X9TRa2.