2020 Environmental Real Estate Issues

A chemical manufacturer and EPA have executed an Agreed Order on Consent (AOC) that requires the company to sample and test for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in and near its manufacturing facility. EPA requested the PFAS sampling under Section 3013 of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), which allows EPA to require specific sampling and testing to determine if substances in industrial wastes may present hazards.

The AOC states that the company “has fully cooperated with the EPA” regarding these matters.

PFAS Initiative
EPA’s news release says the AOC “will provide data to improve the agency’s understanding of the extent of PFAS contamination and how migration of PFAS contamination may impact communities.” The AOC “is part of EPA’s FY2024-2027 National Enforcement Compliance Initiative on Addressing Exposure to PFAS.”

EPA Pronouncements Inconsistent with the AOC
In the news release, Assistant Administrator David M. Uhlmann of EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance is quoted as saying the company “must be held accountable for contamination from forever chemicals.” It also says EPA “will continue to address imminent and substantial endangerment situations posed by PFAS contamination.”

These statements are inconsistent with the AOC, which neither identifies any “imminent and substantial endangerment” nor gives any reason for the company to be “held accountable” regarding PFAS. In addition to acknowledging the company’s cooperation, the AOC quotes from its final PFAS rule (October 11, 2023) “that exposure to some PFAS in the environment may be linked to harmful health effects in humans and animals, and that continued exposure above specific levels to certain PFAS may lead to adverse health effects.”

To see the news release, which includes a link that can lead to the AOC, https://www.epa.gov/newsreleases/epa-secures-agreement-chemours-conduct-new-sampling-pfas-contamination-near-washington