Invoice setting guidelines for ‘eternally chemical substances’ advances in Alaska’s Legislature

There are tons of of “PFAS websites” in Alaska—locations the place the state has documented contamination from a gaggle of chemical substances linked to sick well being results like most cancers and excessive ldl cholesterol. They’re referred to as “eternally chemical substances” as a result of they accumulate in human our bodies and don’t break down within the atmosphere. Most of the websites are at and round state-owned airports, the place firefighting foams that comprise the chemical substances are used recurrently in security coaching.

Sen. Jesse Kiehl, D-Juneau, has proposed a invoice that will change contaminant-laden foams with a safer various. Senate Invoice 67 is the primary invoice to control PFAS to make it to the Senate ground. Sen Kiehl has been working for 5 years on regulating PFAS, an abbreviation for perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances.

“Hopefully it would make it right through,” he mentioned. “I’ve been within the Capitol lengthy sufficient to not get previous ‘diligent optimism’ till there’s ink on the governor’s signature line.”

The invoice has bipartisan help within the Senate and a companion invoice within the Home, sponsored by Rep. Will Stapp, R-Fairbanks.

Kiehl’s earlier payments proposed setting stricter regulatory necessities for PFAS, however he mentioned he doesn’t have to incorporate these any longer—the U.S. Environmental Safety Company has proposed federal laws that the state’s Division of Environmental Conservation would comply with.

However Kiehl says the invoice’s passage isn’t assured due to a $2.5 million price ticket. That’s the one-time price for disposing of the PFAS containing firefighting foams within the state’s rural communities—an estimated 5,280 gallons. The state’s Division of Transportation and Public Amenities additionally owns roughly 35,000 gallons of the foams throughout 15 airports, however the state is accountable for that disposal price whatever the invoice.

“There’s an enormous disposal price ticket looming for the state, whatever the invoice,” Kiehl mentioned. If that foam will get sprayed into the soil and groundwater, the price of that cleanup would “make this 2.5 million appear to be a penny.”

The invoice would regulate firefighting foams at airports, however not for the oil and gasoline business. That’s as a result of there isn’t an alternate firefighting foam that’s as efficient in quenching fires because the foams containing PFAS. Between the North Slope, pumps on the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System, and Valdez, the senator estimates that accounts for lots of focus.

The invoice stipulates that when a suitable various foam is accessible, the state hearth marshal will make a regulation to require its use.

The Home model of the laws, Home Invoice 166, is scheduled for a listening to within the Home Labor and Commerce Committee on Friday.

Correction: The unique model of the article misstated how the prices ensuing from the invoice can be spent.