The Pentagon’s PFAS contamination task force ordered in July by Defense Secretary Mark Esper released operating principles Tuesday stipulating the panel will meet at least monthly, report progress to Esper, and face a January deadline to submit their final findings and recommendations, according to a Military Times report.
The task force is assigned to address the cancer-linked chemicals found in military base water and is meant to “ensure a coordinated, aggressive and holistic approach on DOD-wide efforts to proactively address PFAS,” according to the document.
The task force’s mission, according to Military Times, includes five main goals:
- The health implications of PFAS exposure, and education for military health care workers.
- Standards for clean-up and the performance thereof.
- The search for a substitute for the PFAS-packed firefighting foam used in aircraft and vehicle incidents.
- Collaborating with other related agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency, which so far has set the federal standards for identifying contamination and handling it.
- Keeping Congress and the public updated on the task force’s efforts.
The Pentagon has acknowledged more than 400 sites with documented PFAS levels, specifically perfluorooctanesulfonic acid and perfluorooctanoic acid, two chemical types that the EPA requires the services to monitor, as On Base has previously reported.
The chemicals have been linked to various cancers and are found in common items such as nonstick cookware, fast-food wrappers, water-resistant clothing, and other goods. They are also used in aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF) which has been deployed for decades by DOD to rapidly extinguish high-combustion fuel fires.
The PFAS task force now has to report to Esper every thirty days, with interim findings due in three months and a full report due the first of next year, according to the report.
The reports must include a prioritized list of action items, with offices designated to address each priority. There should also be recommended actions, with a timeline, to address each one, the report said.