Durbin Discusses Detection of PFAS Near Peoria and Springfield National Guard Bases with Air Force Secretary

SPRINGFIELD – U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), Vice Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Defense Subcommittee, today spoke with U.S. Air Force Secretary Barbara Barrett to discuss the detection of the two main types of Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) – PFOS and PFOA – during site inspections at Peoria and Springfield Air National Guard Bases.  The Air Force and Air National Guard will now conduct investigations off-base to determine if any drinking water supply locally may be impacted, conduct appropriate testing, and take remediation efforts if necessary.  Durbin discussed his push to include $220 million to the Department of Defense in the Senate Defense Appropriations bill for continued testing and remediation of PFAS.  This includes a congressional add of $84.6 million so that the military can execute all the PFAS-related actions that it is capable of doing this year. 

“We must continue to do everything we can to protect the public health of all those who work at the Peoria and Springfield National Guard bases as well as the residents living nearby.  Secretary Barrett assured me the Air Force and National Guard are working diligently to identify any potential contamination in the water supply near the Peoria 182nd and the Springfield 183rd,” Durbin said. “As Vice Chairman of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, I’ll continue to push for federal funds that assist the Department of Defense in detecting and remediating PFAS chemicals so we can protect our servicemembers, their families, and the surrounding communities.”

In February, Durbin and a group of 30 Senators sent a letter to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler requesting he provide an updated timeline for when the EPA will implement commitments made in the agency’s plan to combat exposure to PFAS.  The EPA released its plan – the PFAS Action Plan, more than a year ago and has yet to implement many of the commitments outlined in the strategy.   

PFAS are a class of 4,700 chemicals that are highly toxic and can be harmful at low doses.  They are nicknamed “forever chemicals” as they do not breakdown easily and can accumulate in people, food, and the environment.   PFAS has been linked to serious illnesses, including several types of cancer, birth defects, and thyroid disease. 

Durbin is a cosponsor of the Providing Financial Assistance to States (PFAS) for Testing and Treatment Act, which would provide substantial federal funding for PFAS remediation in drinking water, and groundwater, including private wells.  Durbin is also a cosponsor of thePFAS Action Act of 2019, a bill to designate PFAS chemicals as hazardous substances under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act, and  the Clean Water Standards for PFAS Act of 2019, which tasks the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) with regulating PFAS under the Clean Water Act and sets new standards restricting the flow of PFAS into surface waters. 

Over the past two years, Durbin helped increase funding for PFAS-related clean-up, research, and mitigation work at and near military bases to $483 million through the Senate Appropriations Defense Subcommittee.