Sen. Cantwell Announces $70M in Funding for PFAS Contamination Clean-Up

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) today announced the inclusion of an additional $70 million in funding to the Department of Defense for environmental restoration in areas struggling with water contamination due to their proximity to military installations, such as Fairchild Air Force Base, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, and Naval Station Whidbey Island, in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

“Clean drinking water is a must for every Washingtonian, and for families throughout our country,” Senator Cantwell said. “From Airway Heights to Coupeville and Whidbey Island, this funding will ensure we continue to clean up groundwater in communities affected by these chemicals.”

Senator Cantwell also helped to secure an amendment in the NDAA to authorize $10 million for the purposes of performing a health impact study on the effects of PFAS groundwater contamination. The funding will also help establish a health registry for people negatively impacted by the pollution.

PFAS are chemicals found in firefighting foams that had been used at military installations and civilian airports. The chemicals have been detected in groundwater and drinking water wells near these entities. While the health effects of these chemicals are still being determined, studies have linked PFAS exposure to developmental damage, certain cancers, and immune system dysfunction.

The Department of Defense has identified over 400 installations with a known or suspected release of PFAS that require additional investigation. Three Washington state military facilities – Fairchild Air Force Base, Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, and Joint Base Lewis-McCord – have detected elevated PFAS levels in groundwater wells used for drinking water. In the case of Joint Base Lewis-McCord, military officials have indicated the contamination was contained and did not spread off the base.

Senator Cantwell has consistently advocated for more resources to address PFAS groundwater contamination. She has pushed her colleagues and the administration to dedicate more resources to clean-up. In November 2017, she secured $62 million in funding for water remediation and environmental restoration in impacted communities.

The U.S. House of Representatives passed the NDAA today. It next moves on to the Senate for a final vote, expected to take place next week.