Firefighting foam that spilled into the Farmington River in June 2019. CONNECTICUT DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY AND ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION
Firefighting foam that spilled into the Farmington River in June. CONNECTICUT DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY AND ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION

Connecticut Attorney General William Tong says the state is working aggressively to deal with toxic chemicals known as PFAS in the Farmington River. In June, thousands of gallons of the chemicals were accidentally released into the Farmington near Bradley International airport.

Late last week, Tong was joined by legislators and environmental officials at the banks of the Farmington River in Windsor near where the spill originated. He said before any action is taken, the state needs more information.

“Once we have a fuller and better understanding of how Connecticut has been impacted, the Attorney General’s office, in consultation with our local, state and federal partners will decide what the next steps are – whether it’s an additional investigation, whether there is litigation in the future, we don’t know that yet.”

PFAs are poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances — chemicals used in fire-fighting foam, oil and water repellents,  nonstick products such as Teflon, waxes, paints and cleaning products.

Windsor Mayor Donald Trinks thinks there is a quicker solution to the PFAS problem.

“Let’s just get this banned,” said Trinks. “Man, we don’t need it anymore. You guys should all be standing surrounded by boats at this point of the season.”

The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection is still waiting for results from the first group of fish caught near the spill for toxic levels of PFAS. The agency plans another round of testing before they will deem fish caught in that area of the Farmington safe for human consumption. The results from those fish are not expected until late September.

AG Tong and 21 other state attorneys general are urging congress to pass legislation to aid states in addressing the public health threat of toxic “forever” chemicals like PFAS. They are also asking congress to add PFAS to the EPA’s Toxic Release Inventory (TRI), which requires certain industrial facilities to report annually the amount of specific toxic chemicals released into the environment.

This story was first published Aug. 8, 2019, by WNPR,  Connecticut Public Radio.

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