PFAS Update: Natural Resources Board Tables Emergency Firefighting Foam Rule and WisPAC Releases Draft Action Plan

Earlier this year, the legislature approved and the governor signed into law 2019 Wisconsin Act 101, legislation that regulates firefighting foam that contains PFAS. The Department of Natural Resources drafted Emergency Rule WA-06-20(E), as directed in Act 101, and it was put on the agenda for the Natural Resources Board (the board) to approve this week.

The board tabled approval of the rule after industry groups submitted comments sharing concerns that “the draft rule exceeds the statutory authority conferred upon the DNR by 2019 Wisconsin Act 101.” The emergency rule establishes effluent limits for 14 different PFAS compounds, which according to industry groups, went beyond the limits of the rule’s original statement of scope and is in violation of Chapter 227 rule making procedural requirements.

The board tabled the motion and plans to revisit the issue at its September meeting after having conversations with various stakeholders.

WisPAC Outlines Draft Action Plan

On Thursday, the Wisconsin PFAS Action Council (WisPAC) met to discuss their draft action plan to be included as part of a larger strategy to address the existence of PFAS in Wisconsin. While reviewing the plan, WisPAC discussed potential content changes and stated they will finalize the action plan at their next meeting.

The action plan proposes to:

  • Monitor background levels of PFAS in the environment
  • Collaborate to address PFAS-containing firefighting foams in Wisconsin
  • Provide support to Wisconsin veterans to address PFAS-related health risks
  • Develop and apply best management practices for proper handling of PFAS-containing waste
  • Launch a PFAS foam collection & disposal program
  • Enforce environmental justice and health equity in Wisconsin communities
  • Provide financial tools for local governments
  • PFAS site identification using maps and other tools
  • Phase-out of paper products that contain PFAS
  • Collaborate on and implement research
  • Develop PFAS risk communication infrastructure
  • Invest in PFAS clean-ups in Wisconsin communities
  • Collect data on drinking water treatment and costs
  • Enhance collaboration between Wisconsin and federal agencies on PFAS issues relating to military installations
  • Develop new tools to address PFAS contaminated sites
  • Develop and promote new partnerships to increase understanding of PFAS
  • Develop exposure reduction recommendations for public sector employees
  • Facilitate timely collection of environmental PFAS data
  • Standardize PFAS sampling methods and support statewide implementation
  • Develop guidelines for PFAS landfill leachate management
  • Develop and support product stewardship mechanisms to reduce PFAS use
  • Test public water systems for PFAS
  • Establish science-based environmental standards for PFAS
  • Minimize the state’s purchase of PFAS-containing products
  • Improve efficiency in development of long-term water supply solutions
  • Identify and minimize sources to reduce discharge of PFAS to wastewater facilities

According to WisPAC, following the current review period, a final draft version of the full plan will be made available for public review and comment, likely in September. A final plan will then be forwarded to the governor, state agencies, and legislature for review and consideration.