A New Jersey landfill in Cumberland County Improvement Authority decided not to accept 4,500 tons of PFAS contaminated soil from the former Naval Air Station at Willow Grove in Pennsylvania. Before the decision was made, there were many health and environmental concerns with dumping the contaminated soil in a New Jersey landfill such as leaking into nearby groundwater.
“Cumberland County is doing the right thing by not allowing the military to dump on New Jersey. Every time we can stop toxic chemicals from being dumped in our state is a win. This material is highly contaminated and can get out into the environment and impact public health. This decision will also force the Department of Defense to properly remediate the material and send it to a more appropriate place. DEP should have never allowed these materials in the first place, this stuff is too contaminated. New Jersey has enough toxic chemicals to deal with,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “New Jersey has a history of contaminated materials coming into our state. Part of the reason is because DEP does not regulate these chemicals. DEP needs to set standards in place for these toxic materials to prevent any more possible dumping.”
The Naval Aire Station at Willow Grove is a major source of PFAS contamination because it used the chemicals in firefighting foam. These foams were also used on NJ Joint Base McGuire- Dix Lakehurst where contamination was noted in 2017. In a March report to Congress, the Defense Department listed 126 facilities where tests of nearby water supplies showed the substances exceeded the current safety guidelines. In January 2017, PFOA and PFOS were found in the groundwater at the NJ Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst and contamination was found off-base, in a surrounding community.
“New Jersey has a serious problem with Joint Base, why would we want more toxic chemicals in our state?PFOS were found at the Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst and the surrounding areas in Burlington County. In Salem and Gloucester County, PFOs found near the Solvay site were seven times over standard. Repeated exposure to PFOS can lead to development defects in children and pregnant women, liver and kidney problems, and even tumors,” said Tittel. “The DEP must be proactive in developing stricter standards for these toxic chemicals, especially when the Trump Administration has sided with DuPont and polluters.”
The Trump Administration has decided not to set a drinking water limit for two toxic chemicals known as PFOA and PFOS, according to POLITICO. The decision means these chemicals will remain unregulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act. This means there will be no federal requirements for utilities for testing or removing the chemicals from drinking water supplies.
“EPA’s decision not to regulate PFOS and PFAS will directly impact the clean up of toxic sites in New Jersey, our clean water, and ultimately our public health. Almost 1.6 million people in New Jersey are exposed to these chemicals. That is why the DEP must move forward on adopting stricter standards for these two chemicals. The Drinking Water Quality Institute set the strongest in the nation for PFOS and PFAS. The institute had the science behind them and the best technology when they made that standard. The DEP cannot sit on their hands anymore and must be proactive in adopting those standards for our drinking water,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club.