Cuomo signs bill to phase out PFAS in firefighting foam

Albany. The release of PFAS foam into the environment has caused drinking water contamination across New York State, including in Newburgh.

15 Jan 2020 | 10:54

    Governor Cuomo signed legislation recently to phase out the use of PFAS chemicals in firefighting foam.

    The release of PFAS foam into the environment has caused drinking water contamination across New York State, including at the Stewart Air National Guard Base in Newburgh as well as the Hampton Bays.

    The State Legislature and Cuomo have agreed to a chapter amendment to S.439-A/A.445-A. The chapter amendment will eliminate the permanent exemptions to the PFAS foam phase-out included in the bill passed by the State Senate and Assembly.

    Requirements to phase out PFAS foam will now apply to chemical plants, oil refineries, and fuel storage and distribution facilities. Under the chapter amendment, the Office of Fire Control and Prevention may promulgate a regulation allowing specific uses of PFAS foam for which effective PFAS-free foams are not available. This exemption must be reevaluated at least every two years and repealed if effective PFAS-free foams become available.

    “Today, we celebrate a victory for clean water. Phasing out PFAS chemicals in firefighting foam will eliminate a major source of water pollution in New York State, resulting in cleaner and healthier drinking water for all residents," said Rob Hayes, clean water associate for Environmental Advocates of New York. "Passing this bill required collaboration from a diverse and dedicated coalition, from firefighters to local governments to environmental advocates in impacted communities around the state. We are proud to stand in solidarity with them on this incredible win.”

    Assemblyman Colin Schmitt (R,C,I,Ref-New Windsor) co-sponsored this state bill. In a press release, Schmitt said: “PFAS chemicals have wreaked havoc in our region. This new law will have a significant positive impact on our region's water supply and water supplies throughout the state. It is my hope and goal to see other states and the federal government follow suit and end the use of PFAS based firefighting foams for good.”