Seneca Lake Guardian, an environmental advocacy group, has called on New York Governor Hochul to take action against the use of PFAS chemicals, also known as “forever chemicals,” across the state.
These chemicals, which are found in a variety of everyday products including non-stick pans and food packaging, are known to build up in the environment and in the human body, leading to a range of negative health impacts including cancer, liver damage, and decreased fertility.
A policy brief from the Rockefeller Institute recently revealed that New York is one of nine states that fall short of the Environmental Protection Agency’s recommended standards for PFAS in drinking water.
The Seneca Lake Guardian has specifically called for the closure of the Seneca Meadows landfill, located in Seneca Falls, by 2025 as originally planned. The landfill, which is the largest of its kind in the state and stands at 30 stories tall, produces 75 million gallons of leachate annually, with less than one-third treated to remove PFAS and other contaminants.
The remaining 50 million gallons is sent, untreated, to wastewater treatment plants in Buffalo, Watertown, Chittenango, and Steuben County, which are not required to test for PFAS or have the means to remove it. These discharges can potentially contaminate drinking water sources. The landfill has requested an expansion that would allow it to operate through 2040.
In addition, the Seneca Lake Guardian is supporting the “PFAS Surface Water Discharge Disclosure Act,” introduced by Senator May and Assembly Member Kelles, which would require annual testing for all facilities permitted to discharge water. There are currently no federal or state regulations that mandate PFAS disclosures from all facilities that might be releasing the chemicals.
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