News Briefs: What's Going on With the EPA?

In this week's water and wastewater news, the U.S. EPA backpedals after disallowing some reporters to attend its National Leadership Summit on PFAS in drinking water; and Michigan gets closer to enacting the strictest lead-level regulations in the nation

News Briefs: What's Going on With the EPA?

On May 22, the New York Times reported that the U.S. EPA banned the Associated Press (AP) and CNN from attending the first part of a chemical summit on harmful water contaminants known as Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS). After a swift media backlash, the reporters were allowed in for the remainder of the event.

Most recently, PFAS made headlines as communities around the nation engage in lawsuits with companies like Chemours and Wolverine World Wide for allegedly dumping the chemicals and polluting groundwater, and for the U.S. Air Force’s use of firefighting foam containing PFAS.

The leadership summit was put together in the wake of accusations that EPA officials tried to bury a federal health study that was ready to release troubling findings about PFAS. The still-unpublished study would show that PFAS are dangerous at lower levels than the EPA is reporting, according to newly disclosed emails written by EPA officials and a White House aide. According to a report by Politico, a White House aide wrote via email about the study: “The public, media, and Congressional reaction to these numbers is going to be huge.”

It remains to be seen what those numbers are, and what the EPA intends to do about it. But on Tuesday’s portion of the summit, EPA chief Scott Pruitt said drinking water contaminated with toxic fluorinated chemicals is a national priority, pledging to establish legal maximum limits for PFAS in municipal water systems.

Those interested in seeing the possible reach of PFAS contamination can check out this interactive map published by the Environmental Working Group.

In other water and wastewater news, Gov. Rick Snyder’s administration in Michigan is nearly finished with its process to enact the nation’s strictest lead-level rules for drinking water.

Those rules would necessitate the replacement of all 500,000 lead service pipes in the state, a plan some Michigan municipalities and utilities have argued against.

The new rules will go in to effect unless a legislative committee objects by June, according to the AP.

Meanwhile, a worker in Washington, D.C. found a man’s body while checking a sewer trap at a pumping station in the early morning hours of May 15.

DC Water says workers are regularly cleaning sewer traps, emphasizing to the public the body was found in the wastewater system, not drinking water.

It’s being speculated that some heavy rains may have pushed the body into the sewer trap. An investigation is ongoing.

Source: FOX 5 News


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