DOE seeks public comment on chemical action plan

Addresses toxic ‘forever chemical’

Courtesy A firefighter applies form retardant to an aircraft.

OLYMPIA – The public is invited to comment on a Chemical Action Plan (CAP) being drafted by the state Department of Ecology. The CAP addresses a class of durable chemicals called poly and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) that can be harmful to humans if allowed to accumulate in the human body beyond levels considered safe by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

A DOE media release said public input on the CAP will be accepted through Dec. 7. Comments can be submitted through the DOE online comment form at or by emailing

Interested parties can also register to attend an upcoming public comment meeting (Nov. 12, 18, or 19) on the PFAS CAP website,” said the release. “CAPs are advisory in nature, so the plan does not create new regulations or restrictions.”

Specifically, DOE is seeking feedback on recommendations in the CAP including:

  • Ensure safe drinking water.
  • Manage PFAS environmental contamination.
  • Reduce PFAS in products.
  • Understand and manage PFAS in waste.

DOE will review comments for use in the final CAP, expected in 2021.

Groundwater contaminated

In the spring of 2017 officials at Fairchild Air Force Base near Spokane discovered groundwater contamination in some water wells bordering the base that contained dangerous levels of PFAS used in the production of firefighting foam applied on an old fire training site.

PFAS are created by joining carbon and fluorine to form one of the strongest bonds in organic chemistry. That bond makes PFAS persistent in the environment and has earned it the name “the forever chemical.”

The Fairchild tests revealed that the groundwater contamination contained many times the level of PFAS considered safe for humans by the EPA. Landowners in Airway Heights and Medical Lake sued the Air Force and Department of Defense over property devaluations resulting from the contaminated water.

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