Hearing on PFAS Exemption for Passive Receivers

March 28, 2024

PFAS compounds are present in many everyday household items and packaging. SWANA has been advocating for landfills and other essential public services to receive a narrow exemption from liability under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) given their role as “passive receivers” of PFAS that are part of the long-term solution to managing these compounds.

The US Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works held a hearing on March 20, 2024, on the potential ramifications of designating certain PFAS as hazardous substances CERCLA, with a focus on impacts on the waste and water sectors.

SWANA and the National Waste and Recycling Association (NWRA) were represented on the hearing panel by Robert Fox, a lawyer who specializes in CERCLA. The other hearing panelists included representatives from the Congressional Research Service, the Environmental Working Group, the New Mexico Department of Environment, and the Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission.

Senators on the committee asked questions and made remarks that were supportive of the concept of protections for passive receivers. They recognized the need to hold producers responsible rather than the utilities that are seeking solutions. The SWANA Secretary, Director of Public Policy, and SWANA members attended the hearing.

SWANA will continue to advocate for protections for passive receivers. Chapters and individual organizations have the option of submitting letters to the committee as a whole or to their elected representatives who sit on the committee.

In addition, a coalition of passive receivers, including SWANA, submitted a letter to the committee stressing the need for essential public service providers to continue to operate with assurances that they will not be held liable for pollution they did not create. The solid waste sector plays a role in finding long-term solutions for responsible PFAS management and SWANA members have been hard at work to develop and implement PFAS testing, removal, and destruction techniques and technologies.