July 22, 2021

Gillibrand Secures Key PFAS Provisions In NDAA To Address Testing And Remediation Of Toxic PFAS Chemicals At Military Installations And National Guard Facilities Across New York State

U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, chair of the Senate Armed Services Personnel Subcommittee, announced that a number of PFAS provisions modeled after her Filthy Fifty Act, which was introduced earlier this year, were secured via amendment into the FY 2022 National Defense Authorization (NDAA) that passed out of the Senate Armed Services Committee last night.

“We have a responsibility to ensure that the Department of Defense is addressing this urgent environmental and public health issue,” said Senator Gillibrand. “The provisions in this amendment, which I co-led with Senator Shaheen and Senator Blumenthal, will accelerate the DOD’s testing and cleanup efforts, and help us better understand the scope and consequences of toxic PFAS pollution at some of the most contaminated military and National Guard sites in the country. The inclusion of these provisions in the NDAA is an important step in the fight to protect the health of our service members, their families, and the surrounding communities. I look forward to passing this bill so we can work with our state and local partners to clean up, monitor, and remediate toxic PFAS chemicals.”

Specifically, the provisions modeled after the Filthy Fifty Act would:

  • Establish a two-year deadline for the Department of Defense (DOD) to complete testing for PFAS at all currently identified military installations and National Guard facilities.
  • Require the DOD to submit a report to Congress with the status of efforts to remediate PFAS at 50 priority installations that are among the most contaminated with PFAS.
  • Direct the DOD to develop a remediation schedule with proposed deadlines for when they plan to complete PFAS remediation at all military bases, National Guard facilities, and formerly used defense sites that have been identified as having a PFAS release related to DOD activities.

Of the 50 priority installations included in this amendment, four are located in New York:

  • Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station
  • Plattsburgh Air Force Base
  • Hancock Field Air National Guard Base
  • Stewart Air National Guard Base

Hundreds of contaminated military sites across the country jeopardize the health, safety, and well-being of military communities who have suffered from exposure to per- and polyfluoralkyl substances (PFAS) pollution in their drinking water. The military’s heavy use of a firefighting foam, widely known as aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF), has resulted in widespread PFAS contamination around military sites and yet no cleanup actions have been completed for the bases with the highest PFAS detections, harming the nearby communities.

In June, Senator Gillibrand introduced the Filthy Fifty Act, which would help expedite the testing, cleanup, removal, and remediation of PFAS at all U.S. military installations and state-owned National Guard facilities by setting testing and cleanup deadlines for PFAS remediation at some of the most contaminated DOD sites in the country. The bill establishes a list of “priority installations” with 50 bases in the U.S. that have among the highest detections of PFAS. Securing these provisions in the NDAA is a major win for New York military communities burdened by toxic PFAS pollution. 

As a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Senator Gillibrand has been a leader in the fight to support victims of PFAS exposure and to end the use of these toxic chemicals. She has called for a national ban on toxic PFAS chemicals and continues to push the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to combat environmental contamination. Gillibrand fought to include provisions in the final Fiscal Year 2020 (FY20) National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) — passed by Congress and signed into law by the president — that would protect communities from toxic PFAS exposure.