By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on October 26, 2021, that it is acting upon a petition from New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) to address per- and polyfluorinated substances (PFAS) under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). EPA states that in responding to the petition, it outlined plans to initiate the rulemaking process for two new RCRA actions, “reflecting the agency’s focus on using best available science and leveraging authorities to combat this shared challenge.” First, EPA will initiate the process to propose adding four PFAS as RCRA Hazardous Constituents under Appendix VIII, by evaluating the existing data for these chemicals and establishing a record to support such a proposed rule. The four PFAS that EPA will evaluate are perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS), perfluorobutane sulfonic acid (PFBS), and GenX. EPA states that adding these chemicals as RCRA Hazardous Constituents “would ensure they are subject to corrective action requirements and would be a necessary building block for future work to regulate PFAS as a listed hazardous waste.” The second rulemaking effort will clarify in EPA’s regulations that the RCRA Corrective Action Program has the authority to require investigation and cleanup for wastes that meet the statutory definition of hazardous waste, as defined under RCRA Section 1004(5). According to EPA, this modification would clarify that emerging contaminants such as PFAS can be cleaned up through the RCRA corrective action process.