States, Water Districts Ramp Up PFAS Action

Laura Paskus

January 5, 2021

In an interview taped late last year, now-former Sen. Tom Udall, D-NM, spoke about the military’s contamination of groundwater in New Mexico with PFAS, or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances. 

During the interview, we talked about the lack of transparency on the part of the military, whether New Mexicans should be concerned about the presence of PFAS from military installations in addition to Holloman and Cannon Air Force bases, and what we’ll wish we’d done when looking back on this moment decades from now. 

Meanwhile, widespread testing in Ohio shows that PFAS is present in about six percent of the state’s water systems and Pennsylvania is set to launch a study of the health effects of exposure for 1,000 adults and children who live near Willow Grove Air Force Base 

In California, the city of Fullerton is joining a lawsuit against 3M, DuPont, and other manufacturers of PFAS. According to a story in the Fullerton Observer, the Orange County Water District, along with other local cities and water districts allege that the companies have contaminated the region’s groundwater and water systems: 

The main defendants in the lawsuit are the 3M Company, DuPont (and its various incarnations and spinoff companies including Corteva and Chemours), and DECRA Roofing Systems (located in Corona).  

3M has operated a manufacturing facility in Corona since the 1940s that, according to the lawsuit, “is a source of PFAS that has impacted the Santa Ana River and the Basin.” At this facility, 3M manufactured roofing granules containing PFAS that they then sold to DECRA. In 2011 alone, more than 414 million pounds of these materials were manufactured by 3M at the Corona site.  

“Runoff from DECRA’s Roofing Products contain PFAS and the disposal of these products has contributed to the contamination in Plaintiffs’ drinking water supplies,” the lawsuit alleges. 

In Wisconsin, Gov. Tony Evers has released a 25-point action plan for reducing pollution from PFAS. According to an Associated Press story from Scott Bauer, PFAS have been found there in “more than 40 rural and urban areas across the state, including in Marinette, Superior, Madison and Milwaukee.” 

And for a good nationwide overview of PFAS problems in the United States, Lynne Peeples is writing a series of stories for EnsiaFrom a story published last month: 

Legacy and ongoing PFAS contamination is present across the U.S., especially at or near sites associated with fire training, industry, landfills and wastewater treatmentNear Parkersburg, West Virginia, PFAS seeped into drinking water supplies from a Dupont plant. In Decatur, Alabamaa 3M manufacturing facility is suspected of discharging PFAS, polluting residents’ drinking water. In Hyannis, Massachusettsfirefighting foam from a firefighter training academy is the likely source of well-water contamination, according to the stateUse of PFAS-containing materials such as firefighting foam at hundreds of military sites around the country, including one on Whidbey Island in Washington State, has also contaminated many drinking water supplies. 

If you’ve been affected by PFAS contamination in your community here in New Mexico, call our tip line at (505) 433-7242. To read more coverage of PFAS in New Mexico visit “Groundwater War: New Mexico’s Toxic Threat,” which includes a timeline of events and studies on PFAS.