Sen. Tom Carper sent a letter March 14 to Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler urging the agency to resist alleged calls by the Department of Defense, National Aeronautic and Space Administration and Small Business Administration for EPA to establish national guidance for a PFAS groundwater cleanup standard of 400 parts-per-trillion, which is weaker than EPA’s recommendation of a 70 ppt standard.

If EPA accedes to this reported pressure from other agencies, it would mean that Americans’ exposure to PFAS levels much higher than EPA’s 70 ppt drinking water advisory level could continue both on and off contaminated federal facility sites. According to reports, these agencies are also pressuring EPA not to require any clean-up actions for contamination caused by federal agencies unless the contamination levels exceed 400 ppt, leaving Americans at greater risk of harm from PFAS contamination.

In the letter, citing sources, Carper details interagency conflicts that could help explain the delay in finalizing these guidelines, which have been held at the Office of Management and Budget since August 2018.

“I write with grave concerns regarding the delay in the finalization of EPA’s groundwater cleanup guidelines for PFOS and PFOA, two types of per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances,” wrote Carper. “I have learned that the reason for the lengthy delay is that the Department of Defense, National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the Small Business Administration are urging for the adoption of a much less stringent clean-up standard.”

“According to sources, DOD, along with NASA and SBA, have objected to EPA’s proposed clean up and emergency levels. These agencies instead urged for the adoption of a much higher 400 ppt clean-up standard and 1200 ppt emergency level. Such levels would, among other consequences, subject fewer sites that were contaminated through the military’s use of PFOA/PFOS from having to be remediated in the first place… EPA has reportedly resisted these weakening measures. However, my office has learned that DOD and NASA continue to refuse to agree to take any measures to remediate contamination caused by their activities unless the measured levels of PFOA and PFOS exceed 400 ppt,” continued Carper.

The full text of Carper’s letter is available at