Sen. Casey ties PFC report to military funding
So far, the military’s cleanup costs have reached into the tens of millions of dollars, and the contamination has initiated widespread concerns about potential health effects.
Sen. Casey’s language, inserted into the 2017 defense appropriations bill, appears to require the secretary of defense, within 120 days of passage, to provide a report to Congress updating them on the department’s progress.
“The language makes clear that PFCs have adverse impacts on public health and directs the Department of Defense to report to Congress on: One, the number of military installations where the fire-fighting foam was used and two, the impact of contaminated drinking water on communities around these sites,” read a press release announcing the language.
While the Department of Defense has already stated where it believes foams have been used, the speed of cleanup has irked communities such as those in Bucks and Montgomery counties, where pollution from the chemicals continues to flow unimpeded from groundwater at the Horsham Air Guard Station into area waterways.
The defense appropriations bill determines the annual military budget, and this year’s version is already delayed, with the military still operating on 2016 appropriation levels.
Last year, Sen. Casey attempted to insert an amendment into the authorization act that would have required the military to, upon discovery of a contamination at a base, notify local residents and provide them with an alternative drinking water source within 15 days, develop a remediation plan within 45 days, and provide a public status report every 45 days.
However, the amendment ultimately did not survive the budgeting process.
“We worked pretty diligently with a number of Senate offices … it’s very rare to have something like this happen,” Rhoads said.
Two things the language does not include are a requirement for the military to provide funding for blood tests for those exposed to the chemicals, and a health study to determine whether or not residents were made ill. “Senator Casey continues to believe that (the Department of Defense, EPA and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) should work together to make available health studies and monitoring for affected communities,” a press release from Casey’s office stated.
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