*This article was updated on Dec. 15, 2021 to include the MPCA deadline extension to Jan. 21, 2022 for comments on the plan.
The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) has issued a comprehensive Draft PFAS Monitoring Plan to address the emerging concerns surrounding per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). The plan places PFAS, a widely used and diverse set of chemicals that are used to manufacture a wide variety of products, such as nonstick cookware, fire-fighting foam, and water- and stain-resistant fabrics and materials, and their status as “forever chemicals” into the primary focus of the MPCA.
This cross-program PFAS monitoring plan stands as part of the ongoing work to investigate PFAS discharges, understand the wide range of places where PFAS have been or are currently used, and how those uses result in releases of PFAS to the environment.
The plan is the MPCA’s next step in understanding PFAS and their impacts in Minnesota. It follows up on Minnesota’s February 2021, PFAS Blueprint that detailed PFAS toxicity and their occurrence in Minnesota.
The MPCA’s goals for the plan are to:
- Gather Minnesota-specific information in order to craft effective policies around PFAS and their incorporation into MPCA programs;
- Identify areas of particular concern — due to PFAS concentrations or routes of exposure — that need quick action; and
- Gather data that galvanizes support for PFAS source reduction and pollution prevention.
To effectuate the plan, monitoring will be generally aligned with existing monitoring and reporting that is already conducted by the facilities for other pollutants.
The MPCA will use the monitoring data to effectuate the program’s three main goals and to:
- Help support the future creation of effective policies around PFAS prevention, and cleanup;
- Support source reduction; and
- Identify areas of concern for human health or ecological exposure.
These goals will help further the elimination or minimization of PFAS sources and may be used to motivate bans on nonessential uses of PFAS.
To accomplish these goals, the plan relies on the rights and obligations under the MPCA’s existing agency air, wastewater, stormwater, waste, and brownfields programs. The MPCA is seeking comments on the plan through Jan. 21, 2022.
In addition to the plan, MPCA is currently working on PFAS sampling and analytical guidance, which will be available prior to the implementation of any monitoring plans. The MPCA anticipates that these guidance documents will be available by early 2022.
Companies with facilities in Minnesota that may be impacted by the MPCA’s plan due to current or historical use of PFAS or PFAS-containing materials should be prepared to adapt to the regulatory changes presented by MPCA’s plan.
Additional information for the individual programs under the comprehensive MPCA plan can be found in subsequent Taft articles: Wastewater Program Plan; Remediation Program Plan; Air Program Plan; Solid Waste and Hazardous Waste Program Plan; Industrial Stormwater Program Plan.
Taft’s attorneys have significant experience with PFAS compliance and regulatory counseling. For more information, please contact a member of Taft’s Environmental practice group.