PFAS continues to be an emerging concern as facilities develop an approach to mitigate impacts. On March 22, 2022, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) identified 379 facilities in its final PFAS Monitoring Plan. The plan’s directives have the potential to affect the operations of those facilities along with a wide range of other facilities in Minnesota in the years ahead.
PFAS, or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, are a group of persistent synthetic chemicals that have been used for decades in everything from firefighting foam to nonstick cookware. The properties that make these chemicals so effective in these applications also make them difficult to remove using conventional water, wastewater and air treatment technologies.
As demonstrated in its PFAS Blueprint. Minnesota is among the first states to develop plans, guidance and regulations in advance of federal initiatives. Specifically, the PFAS Monitoring Plan signals the MPCA’s intention to require a wide range of facilities to document their use of PFAS-containing materials and their receipt of PFAS-containing waste products, as well as to conduct PFAS sampling in a variety of media.
What is driving Minnesota to implement its PFAS Monitoring Plan now?
The MPCA recognizes that PFAS monitoring needs and methods will likely change as federal and state regulations evolve. By collecting data now, the agency expects to gain a better understanding of the specific PFAS challenges the state faces.
The MPCA plans to use the data collected through PFAS monitoring in three ways. First, the data will inform Minnesota PFAS policy and development of guidance. Second, the data will help the MPCA better understand where elevated PFAS concentrations are being observed and expedited action may be warranted. Lastly, findings will be used to support PFAS source reduction actions and pollution prevention.
What kinds of facilities are affected?
The 379 facilities on MCPA’s initial target list include commercial and industrial operations, airports, landfills and wastewater treatment plants — facilities in industries that have been associated with PFAS usage. To identify commercial and industrial sites for the list, the MPCA used North American Industry Classification System codes, selecting facilities with primary operating codes associated with potential PFAS emissions.
The MPCA’s program staff will also be evaluating the need for PFAS sampling at new and active Superfund or other Minnesota remediation sites. Facilities with a history of electroplating, petroleum refining, nonstick or waterproof coating applications, and commercial printing could be targeted because of their potential historical use of PFAS-containing products, as would be sites located near known PFAS detections or releases.
Is participation mandatory?
The MPCA has indicated that it plans to take a phased approach to the PFAS Monitoring Plan’s implementation. The initial list of impacted facilities will be contacted with specific monitoring requests in the coming weeks and months. Because the MPCA intends to use this information to inform decision-making, timely collection is a priority. Voluntary compliance with monitoring requests will help speed implementation.
However, the MPCA is likely to pursue legal and regulatory avenues to compel data collection at regulated facilities that choose not to participate voluntarily. That includes Minnesota facilities added over time to the initial list of 379 facilities.
What monitoring is the MPCA requesting?
The MPCA is introducing different requirements for air, wastewater, solid/hazardous waste, remediation and industrial stormwater monitoring programs. The agency has indicated that monitoring requests will vary by facility and may involve testing under one or more programs.
As your facility prepares to address the pending requests revolving around PFAS, our professionals can help you understand the requirements and develop your response strategy.
This post is the second in a series looking at each of the monitoring programs outlined in the new PFAS Monitoring Plan released by the MPCA. Look here for more on the continuing development of the plan and how its requirements could impact the operation of facilities in Minnesota. Other posts in the series: