An emergency rule approved by environmental regulators would restrict the use of firefighting foam in Wisconsin and outlines the steps to treat PFAS chemicals in the state. Governor Tony Evers signed a bill in February banning the use of firefighting foam except in emergencies and testing at designated, approved facilities, and the state’s DNR has since been working on an emergency rule implementing the law’s requirements. That rule was finally adopted last week by the agency on a 5-2 vote. It sets guidelines for notifications and record keeping of foam discharges, storage, and containment measures, and how testing facilities must treat the foam itself, as well as any water discharged from the facility. The board was scheduled to vote on the rule in August but tabled the issue after business and industry groups claimed the DNR lacks the authority to limit PFAS in wastewater and the department’s PFAS limits weren’t based on science. DNR has since revised the rule to reclassify the limits as “action levels” that the agency could use to determine if a treatment method is working. The rule now heads to Governor Evers and DNR Secretary Preston Cole for their signatures before it’s taken up by the Legislature’s joint rules committee.
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November 30, 2020