WASHINGTON — Environment America submitted a letter to the Senate and House Armed Services Committees today, calling on Congress to pass legislation to phase out military firefighting foams that contain toxic per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) within three years. Sixty-five environmental, veterans and community groups signed on to the letter.
“Families from Michigan to West Virginia are drinking poisoned water because nearby military bases keep using these toxic chemicals,” says Bart Johnsen-Harris, clean water advocate with Environment America. “We need to leverage our military’s resources, ingenuity and grit to complete this transition away from PFAS quickly. This is a fight not just to preserve our drinking water, but to protect American lives.”
PFAS-free firefighting foams have been successfully adopted by several U.S. military allies, as well as major companies and airports across the globe.
“We stand firm behind eliminating the Department of Defense’s use of firefighting foams that contain toxic substances like PFAS,” said Keith A. Reed, executive director of the Air Force Sergeants Association. “Safe drinking water for our military members and their families should not be something we have to fight to achieve. With the insurmountable sacrifices made and endless dedication given in service to this country, veterans shouldn’t be concerned with their health and well-being in the comfort of their home. We urge the Pentagon to act quickly and find a new solution before our nation’s heroes and their families are impacted for generations to come.”
The letter coincides with talks around the National Defense Authorization Act, the annual bill that governs much of U.S. military policy.
“The military’s use of toxic firefighting foam has already contaminated water around more than 400 military bases,” said Laura Olah, executive director of Citizens for Safe Water Around Badger, a Wisconsin-based organization that has worked on military toxics issues for nearly 30 years. “Countless aquifers and waterways will forever be contaminated with PFAS—our only hope now is to immediately cut off the source in defense of our freshwater resources.”