FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, April 20, 2023
Sarah Packer (CEH), firstname.lastname@example.org, (510) 594-9863
Bob Sussman (CEH), email@example.com, (202) 716-0118
Kyla Bennett (PEER), firstname.lastname@example.org, (508) 230-9933
EPA Needs a Transparent Public Process for Inhance PFAS SNUNS
Unclear comment and review deadlines, heavy redactions, and disorganized files are blocking meaningful comments on alarming PFAS risks
Washington, DC —The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is conducting a seriously flawed public comment process in its review of dangerous PFAS found in plastic containers, according to a letter sent today to Assistant Administrator Freedhoff by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) and the Center for Environmental Health (CEH).
The groups are asking EPA to fix the public comment process for 18 Significant New Use Notices (SNUNs) for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (aka PFAS or “forever chemicals”) created by Inhance Technologies in the fluorination of millions of plastic containers. The public comment process is a critical opportunity for stakeholders to provide data and analysis to EPA as it decides whether it will allow Inhance Technologies to continue to use a process that creates highly toxic PFAS during fluorination. Extensive data demonstrate that several PFAS are not only present in fluorinated containers but leach into container contents, directly exposing a large segment of the U.S. population and consumers abroad to PFAS.
“EPA needs to move quickly to remove these potent long-term toxins from products,” stated Tim Whitehouse, PEER’s executive director and a former EPA enforcement attorney, noting that EPA has provided public notices for only 9 of the 18 SNUNs filed by Inhance and has failed to coordinate and align the comment and review periods for these interlinked submissions. “EPA gives no indication that it understands the importance of being open and transparent with the public on the dangers to the public caused by PFAS in plastic containers.”
EPA’s flawed approach to the Inhance case is underlined by the significant deficiencies in the nine SNUNs posted for public comment, which –
- Are redacted such that critical information, such as the number of containers fluorinated annually, cannot be accessed;
- Lack key attachments which appear to have been removed from public view without explanation; and
- Are riddled with inconsistencies, including a failure to properly notice half the new uses.
“EPA’s failure to provide proper public notice on all 18 SNUNs for these dangerous chemicals already flowing through the stream of commerce is troubling, to say the least,” added Sarah Packer of CEH. “EPA must demonstrate a commitment to public health and public engagement by urgently fixing this flawed process.”
Late last year, the groups filed a citizen enforcement lawsuit under TSCA against Inhance to stop its manufacture of PFAS. Through the Justice Department, EPA also filed a lawsuit against Inhance for continuing to manufacture PFAS in violation of the SNUN. Earlier this month, a federal district court judge dismissed the PEER/CEH suit without prejudice at the request of both Inhance and EPA on the grounds the government was “diligently prosecuting” its case. The two groups are moving to intervene in the DOJ suit against Inhance.