Following the accidental release of chemicals known as PFAS, or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, into the Farmington River in July 2019, Gov. Lamont created a task force to address the environmental concerns the spill caused. With Thursday marking the third anniversary of the PFAS action plan being implemented, the governor’s office shared an update on what the task force has accomplished so far and outlined the work that still needs to be done.
PFAS are a group of more than 12,000 manmade chemicals that have been widely used in household, commercial, and industrial products and processes since the 1950s for their water, oil, dirt repellant and heat resistant properties. Some of the most studied PFAS chemicals do not break down in the environment and are harmful to humans and animals at very low levels.
The danger of these chemicals was first brought to light in 2002, following litigation against DuPont for dumping the harmful chemicals into landfills and contaminating local water supplies in Ohio and West Virginia. The story of attorney Bob Billet’s lawsuit was adapted into a feature film, Dark Waters, in 2019.
So far, Connecticut’s PFAS task force has implemented several mandates to test water supplies for PFAS, passed legislation to ban the use of aqueous film-forming firefighting foam (AFFF) and PFAS as an additive in food packaging effective January 1, 2024 and initiated the AFFF Takeback Program, which has collected more than 35,300 gallons from more than 250 fire departments and safely disposed of it.
“In the three years since we brought this group together and finalized our action plan, our state agencies have been hard at work to get a handle on this problem and identify and implement ways of getting PFAS out of our environment,” Governor Lamont said. “We still have a long way to go, but we’re much further along than when we started, and I commend our state agencies and their amazing leaders on their progress.”
Moving forward, the task force plans to implement PFAS testing at public water systems serving disadvantaged communities and vulnerable populations, dispose of AFFF from about 400 fire trucks and expand monitoring of landfills.
“PFAS is pervasive, and the work completed to date has provided us with crucial entry points and footholds into the issue that will enable us to continue to build upon this critically important work and protect the health of our residents and our environment, DEEP Commissioner Katie Dykes, who serves as co-chair of the PFAS Task Force, said. I’m grateful to the governor for leading this charge, and to our task force partners for their efforts to date and their continued collaboration going forward.”