Florida Investigating Potential Sources of PFAS

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The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is actively investigating the historic use of perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) for the first time, following national focus on the use of these substances in a myriad of products.  Currently, DEP is focusing on perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS), two PFAS compounds historically used in aqueous film forming foam at fire training facilities, airports and military installations across the state.   But now DEP is beginning to evaluate other potential sources of PFAS, including wastewater treatment facilities and landfills.  PFAS has been commonly used in products such as carpets, clothing, fabrics for furniture, paper, food packaging, and other materials that are resistant to water, grease or stains, and potential sources of PFAS contamination are widespread.  Accordingly, DEP’s regulation of PFAS may cause additional site assessment and remediation obligations and will likely influence future property due diligence activities.

As part of its efforts, DEP announced that it will be holding a Contaminated Media Forum (“CMF”) meeting on September 12, 2019, at its offices in Tallahassee, to discuss current and planned regulatory efforts to evaluate and address potential PFAS impacts in Florida.  To date, DEP has only developed “provisional” groundwater cleanup target levels (“CTLs”) and soil CTLs for PFOA and PFOS for purposes of site assessment and remediation in accordance with Chapter 62-780, F.A.C.  These are “provisional” CTLs because they have not been adopted through formal rulemaking, and DEP does not currently intend on formally adopting these CTLs.  Similarly, we were recently informed by key DEP Division of Waste Management staff that DEP is also developing “provisional” surface water screening levels.  If applied, these screening levels have the potential to significantly impact wastewater discharges to surface water.

Hopping Green & Sams lawyers Mike Petrovich and Carl Eldred are actively helping clients navigate these emerging regulatory issues.  Should you have any questions regarding PFAS, DEP’s regulatory activities, or the CMF, please contact Mike Petrovich or Carl Eldred.