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Tonko Sends Inquiry to Defense Secretary on PFAS at Local Facility

Calls for transparency and accountability, says Senate must act on House-passed bill

ALBANY, NY—Congressman Paul D. Tonko sent a letter to U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper today requesting information on the transportation, storage, and disposal of materials containing per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and/or aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF) generated by the Department of Defense by Norlite, LLC or its parent company Tradebe USA at the company’s facility in Cohoes, New York. 

“As one of the leaders in Congress confronting America’s PFAS pollution crisis, I know all too well the health and environmental risks that can come from release of this toxin into our environment,” Congressman Tonko said. “My team and I are working quickly to determine what, if any, threat may exist for families and businesses around this facility and ensure that the Department of Defense is both transparent and fully accountable for their PFAS waste. Last year we advanced meaningful improvements through the most recent National Defense Authorization Act for exactly this kind of circumstance. They have a responsibility to ensure this dangerous substance is not allowed to be released in ways that expose the people of Cohoes or the surrounding water systems.

Tonko reiterated the need for further Congressional action, saying, “The House took another major step forward in comprehensive PFAS legislation in the form of H.R. 535, the PFAS Action Act, a bill that the Senate can and should advance without any further delay.” H.R. 535, the PFAS Action Act is a comprehensive package of bills shaped and shepherded by Congressman Tonko to reduce human and exposure to these dangerous substances, improve protections for first responders, and provide grants to clean up contaminated water systems. 

The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2020, enacted December 20, 2019, included new requirements to prohibit the unsafe disposal of materials containing PFAS and AFFF generated by the Department, requiring:

  1. all incineration is conducted at a temperature range adequate to break down PFAS chemicals while also ensuring the maximum degree of reduction in emission of PFAS, including elimination of such emissions where achievable;
  2. all incineration is conducted in accordance with the requirements of the Clean Air Act including controlling hydrogen fluoride;
  3. any materials containing PFAS that are designated for disposal are stored in accordance with federal regulations; and
  4. all incineration is conducted at a facility that has been permitted to receive waste regulated under the Solid Waste Disposal Act.


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