EPA considers new rule with PFAS; comment period yet to open  |  Bladen Journal

By: Alan Wooten – Bladen Journal

Public input is being sought nationally by the EPA in regard to certain chemical compounds that have come to the attention of Bladen County residents since the 2017 discovery of GenX contamination in the Cape Fear River.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, in a release Monday, said it may potentially add some per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances to the list of chemicals that companies are required to report to the agency as part of its Toxics Release Inventory. This move is part of the February PFAS Action Plan, which is for long- and short-term actions related to PFAS.

The TRI, as it is known in the industry, provides the public “with information about the use of certain chemicals by tracking their management and associated activities,” the release says. “U.S. facilities in different industry sectors must report annually how much of each chemical is released to the environment and/or managed through recycling, energy recovery, and treatment.” Any PFAS chemicals added would be the first to go onto the list.

Bladen County residents are just one segment among many near the river who have been concerned since June 2017 when the StarNews newspaper in Wilmington broke the story of Chemours releasing GenX into the Cape Fear River. GenX is a trade name for C3 dimer acid, a compound used in the manufacture of products such as food packaging and nonstick coatings.

It’s also a byproduct of certain manufacturing processes. HFPO-DA, an acronym for hexafluoropropylene oxide dimer acid, is another name for the member of a family of chemical compounds known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS.

GenX has been the subject of studies, but there’s been no fully conclusive evidence on how it affects humans. State regulation has been evolving.

A meeting is planned Dec. 3 at 6 p.m. in the gym of Tar Heel Middle School to discuss it. Friends of the Earth is a sponsor along with Columbus County Forum, Democracy Green and the Center for Environmental Health.

The EPA says the public’s input will go toward determining whether data and information are available to fulfill the ability to list a chemical on the TRI. Then, the agency would use the input to help evaluate the extent and usefulness of the data gathered under the TRI, the release says.

To comment, a 60-day window will be open at the Federal Register at docket EPA-HQ-TRI-2019-0375 on regulations.gov. To reach it, go online to regulations.gov and search for PFAS.

As of Tuesday morning, the register did not have the comment period open. A spokesman for the EPA confirmed the period is yet to open, but did not have a timeframe for when it would begin.

The advanced notice of proposed rulemaking, called an ANPRM by the agency, will be evaluated along with assembled studies. If the agency decides to move forward with adding PFAS chemicals to the TRI, a proposed rule would be published and another public comment period would open.

For more information from the EPA on PFAS, go to epa.gov/pfas. For more information on the TRI, go to epa.gov/tri.

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