Durbin Joins Gillibrand To Announce New Legislation To Clean Up PFAS At Military Installations With Highest Levels Of Contamination

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) joined Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) to introduce the Filthy Fifty Act, legislation directing the Department of Defense (DOD) to identify and clean up per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) at U.S. military installations with some of the highest detections across the country.

The hundreds of contaminated military sites across the country jeopardize the health, safety, and well-being of military communities who have suffered from exposure to PFAS pollution and toxic drinking water. The military’s heavy use of a firefighting foam, widely known as aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF), has resulted in widespread PFAS contamination around military sites. Yet no cleanup actions have been completed for the bases with the highest PFAS detections, harming the communities who live nearby.

Illinois has several military facilities with a known or suspected PFAS release, including Scott Air Force Base, Peoria Air National Guard Base, Springfield Air National Guard Base, and the decommissioned Chanute Air Force Base.

“Our military members are focused on keeping us and our families safe, and we owe it to them to ensure their communities and drinking water systems are safe from toxic chemicals like PFAS,” said Durbin. “It’s time we took this public health concern seriously. I’m proud to cosponsor the Filthy Fifty Act to prioritize the eradication of PFAS from military bases in Illinois and across the country.”

The Filthy Fifty Act would help expedite the testing, cleanup, removal, and remediation of PFAS at all U.S. military installations and State-owned National Guard facilities by setting testing and cleanup deadlines for PFAS remediation at the most contaminated DOD sites in the country. The bill establishes a list of “priority installations” with 50 bases in the U.S. that have among the highest detections of PFAS. Decommissioned Chanute Air Force Base in Champaign County, Illinois, is among the 50 “priority installations.”

The bill is also cosponsored by Senators Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Alex Padilla (D-CA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Ed Markey (D-MA), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Cory Booker (D-NJ), and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH).

Durbin has been a longtime champion of removing PFAS from military facilities and has previously helped increase funding for PFAS-related clean-up, research, and mitigation work at or near military bases during his tenure as Chair and Vice Chair on the Senate Appropriations Defense Subcommittee. Durbin has also advocated for PFAS clean-up during his meetings with former Secretary of the Air Force Barbara Barrett and he wrote to former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt on the issue. Durbin is a cosponsor of the Clean Water Standards for PFAS Act, which would regulate PFAS chemicals under the Clean Water Act by creating new effluent limitations and pretreatment standards for sources that discharge PFAS chemicals into our waterways.

U.S. Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA-14) will introduce the measure in the House.

Read the text of the Filthy Fifty Act HERE.