October 20, 2021

After Sugar Camp Mine Fire, Duckworth Stresses Importance of Regulating Toxic “Forever Chemicals” to Keep Communities Safe


[WASHINGTON, D.C.] — U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), founder and co-chair of the U.S. Senate Environmental Justice Caucus and Chair of the Environment & Public Works (EPW) Subcommittee on Fisheries, Water and Wildlife today highlighted how President Biden’s Build Back Better Act and Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal, which includes Duckworth’s bipartisan Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Act (DWWIA) and billions in water infrastructure funding that Duckworth helped secure, would help protect communities from the toxic “forever chemicals” per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and called for quick action on it. In Illinois, Aqueous Fire Fighting Foams (AFFF) that contain PFAS have been used multiple times in recent months, including most recently at the Sugar Camp Coal Mine in Franklin County. Video from today’s hearing can be found here.

“Many commonly used Aqueous Fire Fighting Foams contain PFOS and other long chain PFAS that we’ve known for decades pose a dangerous risk to public health,” Duckworth said. “Despite this knowledge, we’ve continued to use these harmful foams to put out industrial fires and, in the process, allowed them to seep into our ground, our water and ultimately to our neighbors and loved ones. In my home state of Illinois, AFFF have been used in three separate incidents in recent months … Of course, Illinois is not alone.”

During today’s EPW hearing with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Assistant Administrator Radhika Fox, Duckworth advocated for enacting the Build Back Better budget and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal to help ensure cleanup efforts in communities where AFFF, which contain PFAS, have been used. Duckworth secured $4 billion in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal that passed the Senate to address PFAS in drinking water through the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund. Duckworth also secured a provision in the committee-passed 2022 Defense bill to continue the effort to remove PFAS from servicemembers’ and military families’ drinking water by extending authority to transfer funds to studies of the health implications of PFAS and authorizing $15 million for the CDC to assess human health related to PFAS.

Earlier this week, Duckworth commended the Biden Administration’s announcement of a new comprehensive strategic roadmap to confront PFAS.