Earthjustice Applauds Inclusion of PFAS Incineration Provision in Final Passage of NDAA, Calls for Continued Action to Address PFAS Contamination

Provision will prohibit incineration of PFAS waste by the Department of Defense until it meets certain criteria.


Geoffrey Nolan, Earthjustice, (202) 740-7030

Today, Congress passed the FY22 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to authorize defense spending for the upcoming fiscal year. Earthjustice supported provisions to address per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) pollution, particularly an amendment to prohibit incineration of PFAS waste by the Department of Defense (DOD) until it meets certain criteria. This amendment was included in the final NDAA.

Following passage of the bill, Healthy Communities Program Legislative Counsel Christine Santillana issued the following statement: 

“We thank Congress for taking this important step toward reducing the harm from PFAS incineration by prohibiting DOD from burning toxic PFAS waste until it takes specific actions to mitigate negative impacts. For too long, communities located near incinerators have lived with the damaging ​consequences. We thank Senator Shaheen and Representative Levin for championing this issue and securing bipartisan support for public health protections against PFAS despite this year’s challenging political process.

“The fight isn’t over, and Congress must take further action to ensure polluters like DOD are not given loopholes to avoid reporting its PFAS releases into communities. We look forward to working with PFAS leaders like Senator Gillibrand and Representative Delgado to advance these efforts.”

Earthjustice represents community organizations and the Sierra Club in a lawsuit challenging DOD’s PFAS incineration under the National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”) and the Fiscal Year 2020 NDAA. The plaintiffs in that suit are located in communities surrounding hazardous waste incinerators in East Liverpool, Ohio; Sauget, Illinois; Port Arthur, Texas; and elsewhere.

“With this vote, Congress has acknowledged the harms that PFAS incineration poses to communities like East Liverpool,” said Alonzo Spencer, president of Save Our County, a community organization based in East Liverpool, Ohio. “It is time for Department of Defense to do the same. The Biden administration should stop burning PFAS in environmental justice communities and begin investigating and remediating the harm that DOD’s past incineration has caused.  We hope that this bill is the beginning of action that will help protect the health and safety of citizens living in Ohio, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania.”

“Communities in Southern Illinois and other parts of the country have suffered greatly because of DOD’s PFAS contamination,” said Cheryl Sommer, president of United Congregations of Metro East, a community organization based in the Metro East region of Southern Illinois. “DOD’s incineration of its PFAS waste adds yet another threat to areas that already lack clean air and water. Congress heard those communities’ concerns and ordered DOD to hit the brakes. We urge the Biden administration to use this moratorium as an opportunity to reconsider the prior administration’s PFAS disposal policies and to invest in the development of safe destruction methods for of DOD’s PFAS stockpiles.”

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