05.20.20

FOLLOWING REVELATION OF 58,000 GALLONS PFAS FOAM HEADING FROM NAVY BASE TO NORLITE THIS WEEK TO BE BURNED, SCHUMER, IN LETTER AND PERSONAL CALL TO NAVY SEC., PUSHES FOR IMMEDIATE HALT IN TOXIC SHIPMENT AND SUSPENSION OF CONTRACT; DESPITE LOCAL MORATORIUM BANNING PFAS BURNING, NAVY/DOD STILL PLAN TO SEND HIGHLY TOXIC CHEMICALS TO COHOES TO BURNED

Earlier This Year, Norlite-Tredabe Voluntarily Suspended Disposal Of Potentially Carcinogenic Material, Yet, Navy/DOD Plan To Send 12 Truckloads Of Highly Toxic Chemicals From VA Naval Station To Norlite Plant to Be Burned This Week; And More In The Future

Senator Says Navy and DOD Must Not Force Norlite To Accept And Burn AFFF, Breaking Local Moratorium

Schumer To Navy and DOD: STOP The Shipment Of PFAS ASAP & Grant Suspension Of Burning Plans

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer today urged the United States Navy (Navy) and the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA), the Department of Defense’s (DoD) combat logistics support agency to reverse their denial of Tradebe Treatment and Recycling, LLC’s (Tradebe) request for a six to eight month suspension of their aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF) waste disposal contract and halt future shipments of AFFF to Norlite.  In addition, because the first new shipment from DLA was to come from the Norfolk Naval Station, Senator Schumer made a personal call to Acting Navy Secretary James McPherson last night to explain the situation and enlist his help in suspending the shipment.

Following a report showing PFAS surrounding the Cohoes plant, the company has requested the suspension of their AFFF waste disposal contract to allow the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and others to continue testing the safety and efficacy of incinerators like that operated by Norlite, LLC’s (Norlite) in Cohoes, New York. Schumer told the acting secretary that Norlite should not be forced to accept an additional 58,000 gallons of PFAS-laden AFFF and that the contract should be suspended instead.

Schumer explained that Norlite-Tradebe’s current contract with the DLA includes the disposal of AFFF, which contains hundreds of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) compounds and is designed to put out jet fuel fires, making the carcinogenic substance extremely fire resistant. The release of PFAS compounds as a result of disposal though incineration, risks dispersing PFAS into the surrounding area, raising serious health concerns, according to Schumer.

“The DoD’s rash and unwise continuous push for Norlite to continue to burn highly toxic, fire-resistant, and carcinogenic chemicals, like PFAS, close to the homes of so many New Yorkers makes absolutely no sense and needs to stop, right now,” said Senator Schumer. “The local government has understandably placed a moratorium on PFAS burning, and it is unacceptable that the DoD continues to plan to ship truckloads of hazardous material to the Cohoes facility. The DoD must reverse course and immediately grant Norlite’s suspension request and act responsibly for the health of Cohoes residents and all New Yorkers.”

Schumer explained that burning AFFF at Norlite’s Cohoes facility is concerning because PFAS is a “forever chemical” that can disperse in the air, soil, and water supplies, and that exposure to PFAS compounds is linked to cancer, liver disease, auto-immune deficiencies, and infertility.

While Norlite’s Cohoes location did incinerate AFFF in 2018 and 2019, after Schumer raised concerns about the practice and after an EPA report was published at the end of 2019 advising against the use of incineration to destroy PFAS compounds, the company voluntarily suspended operations to allow time for further testing.

“The bottom line is that it makes no sense to try to burn a cancer-causing toxic substance and then disperse it into our air, soil and water,” said Schumer. “So the Navy and DOD need to cease and desist from this unsafe practice forthwith.”

Additionally, Schumer reminded the DLA that the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020 in in Section 7361, specifies that the EPA must promulgate interim guidance on the destruction and disposal of PFAS materials including AFFF, which will take into consideration the potential for release of PFAS during disposal and potential impact on vulnerable populations living near disposal sites.

Senator Schumer’s letter to the Defense Logistics Agency appears below:

Dear Acting Secretary McPherson and Lieutenant General Williams:

I write today to urge the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) to grant Tradebe Treatment and Recycling, LLC’s (Tradebe) request for a six to eight month suspension of the waste disposal contract so as to not force almost 60,000 gallons of Aqueous Film-Forming Foam (AFFF) upon Norlite, LLC (Norlite) and New York. The DLA must not compel Norlite-Tredabe to accept and burn AFFF against the moratorium enacted by the local government and company to ensure the safety of all New Yorkers.

Two months ago, reports surfaced that Norlite had incinerated AFFF at its Cohoes, New York location in 2018 and 2019. As you know, AFFF contains hundreds of PFAS compounds and was designed to be extremely fire resistant so it could be used to put out jet fuel fires. In a September 2019 document produced by the EPA titled, Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS): Incineration to Manage PFAS Waste Streams the EPA’s authors state that, “The effectiveness of incineration to destroy PFAS compounds […] is not well understood.” The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020 (NDAA; P.L. 116-92), in Section 7361, specifies that the EPA must promulgate interim guidance on the destruction and disposal of PFAS materials including AFFF.  This guidance is required to take into consideration the potential for release of PFAS during disposal and the potential impact on vulnerable populations living near those sites. As EPA has said, the effectiveness of incinerating PFAS is not well understood, but the health effects of PFAS are increasingly well documented. Exposure to PFAS compounds is strongly linked to a host of cancers, liver disease, auto immune deficiencies, and even infertility. The bottom line is that attempting to burn this fire-resistant carcinogenic chemical and dispersing it into the air, soil and water makes no sense, is a public health threat, and should not be the policy of the DOD.

In response to these reports, Norlite voluntarily shutdown to allow time for further testing of the effects of attempting to burn AFFF. Additionally, the Cohoes Common Council, of Cohoes, NY which includes the Norlite facility, enacted a one-year moratorium on incinerating AFFF. According to Norlite’s parent company, Tradebe, the DLA recently rejected their request for a six to eight month suspension of the waste disposal contract. Furthermore according recent reporting, the DLA was pushing an incineration order to Norlite for 58,000 gallons of AFFF waste materials which was set to be transported in 12 tanker trucks traveling from a Navy facility in Virginia. Based on our recent conversation, I am encouraged by your commitment to promptly investigate the situation. This is a time sensitive matter as, according to those same reports, the DLA had instructed Norlite to take possession of the shipment in seven business days as of May 11, which would be today, May 19. This shipment, and future shipments should not occur.

Tradebe and the Cohoes Common Council have both spoken in unison and requested that no more AFFF be burned at the Norlite facility. Therefore, I urge the DLA to grant Tradebe’s request for a six to eight month suspension of the Norlite-Tredabe waste disposal contract and to not force almost 60,000 gallons of AFFF upon Norlite and New York.

Thank you both for your time and attention to this matter, if you have questions please do not hesitate to contact my staff.

Sincerely,

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