Pentagon Temporarily Halts Incineration of ‘Forever Chemicals’

The Pentagon - Sputnik International, 1920, 05.05.2022
In 2017, the US Air Force warned that burning PFAS chemicals as a means of disposing of them could produce “environmentally unsatisfactory” by-products, including those that may be toxic or contribute to climate change.
The US Department of Defense (DoD) has temporarily stopped incinerating fire fighting foam and other toxic substances containing PFAS, also known as “forever chemicals.” It has also vowed to issue guidance for safe disposal of the chemicals that Congress requested two years ago in the near future.
The move comes after Paul Cramer, acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for Energy, Installations and the Environment, wrote in a memo that the Pentagon would issue a “temporary prohibition” on burning PFAS, or perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances.
“Because DoD has not yet finalised the guidance required […] the DoD must immediately discontinue contracting activities for the incineration of any PFAS material,” including fire fighting foam, the memo reads.
Cramer said the Pentagon would lift the “temporary prohibition” once it issues guidance documents pertaining to the matter.
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The pause follows the National Defense Authorisation Act of 2022, which required the DoD to halt the incineration of PFAS chemicals until the Pentagon implemented guidance on destruction and disposal of “forever chemicals.”
In October 2021, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) introduced a strategic roadmap to designate certain PFAS chemicals as hazardous substances, four years after the Air Force cautioned that burning such substances in a bid to dispose of them could produce “environmentally unsatisfactory” or toxic by-products.
PFAS is class of chemicals, which have been used in a variety of household products, such as waterproof apparel and non-stick pans. They are also used in military fire fighting foam. Some of such substances may cause cancer and other deadly diseases.
EPA has defined PFAS as “long-lasting chemicals, components of which break down very slowly over time.” According to the agency, “Because of their widespread use and their persistence in the environment, many PFAS are found in the blood of people and animals all over the world and are present at low levels in a variety of food products and in the environment”.
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