National and State Legislators Propose AFFF Bans, DOD Uncertain about AFFF Replacements
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Congressman Dan Kildee introduced the PFAS Firefighter Protection Act to ban firefighting foams containing PFAS. If passed, this bill will ban the manufacture, import, process, or distribution of AFFF that contains PFAS, and prohibit the use of AFFF at airports on October 4, 2024. The policymakers stated that previous legislation restricting AFFF had not gone far enough to force the use of PFAS-free substitutes. They pointed to other countries adopting the substitutes at airports specifically. There was no mention of liquid terminals. ILTA is engaging with Congressional staff to understand the potential industry impacts and potential path of these bills.
Banning AFFF containing PFAS will require alternative technologies to extinguish petroleum and other oil-based fires, but the Department of Defense (DOD) appears to be experiencing setbacks with identifying an appropriate replacement that meets the military specifications (MILSPEC). The DOD recently released the slide deck from a presentation in February that identified six “viable” alternatives to AFFF. Unfortunately, each of these technologies are associated with major flaws including high cost or ineffectiveness against fuel fires.
Identifying an AFFF alternative is a high priority for the DOD. The DOD is required to phaseout AFFF by 2024 and publish a military specification for a fluorine-free fire-fighting agent by October 2023. Identifying new alternatives to AFFF will be a major priority for terminal operators if AFFF is banned nationally in the future.
Several states have also proposed and passed major legislation regarding PFAS and AFFF in the past month. Maryland passed a bill on April 21 that prohibits a person from using, manufacturing, or knowingly selling or distributing Class B fire-fighting foam that contains intentionally added PFAS chemicals in the state after January 1, 2024. However, liquid terminals were granted an exemption until January 1, 2028.
Both houses of the Illinois General Assembly passed a bill banning destruction of PFAS by incineration on April 20 and sent this bill to the governor for signature. A similar bill was passed in Illinois last year and vetoed by the governor; it is uncertain if the bill will also be vetoed.
More information on the legislation in Maryland and Illinois, along with other state-level legislation, can be found in the ILTA legislation tracker.