EPA Takes Bold Step: Polluters to Bear Costs for PFAS Cleanup

PFAS Water Contamination Attorney Matthew Marin

In an unprecedented move, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has declared two notorious “forever chemicals,” PFOA and PFOS, as hazardous substances under the Superfund law. This pivotal decision shifts financial responsibility for cleaning up these carcinogenic compounds from taxpayers to the polluters. Our team at Marin, Barrett, and Murphy Law Firm views this as a transformative moment in environmental law and justice, heralding a new era where accountability is enforced directly upon those who contaminate.

Understanding the New EPA Regulation:

PFOA and PFOS are part of a broader group known as PFAS, which have been linked to severe health risks including cancer, metabolic disorders, and decreased fertility. These chemicals are pervasive, found in numerous consumer products and detectable in the blood of almost every American. The new rule allows the EPA to compel manufacturers and users of these chemicals to monitor and clean up any environmental releases.

Implications of the Hazardous Substance Designation:

This designation is a game-changer for environmental law. Companies must now report any releases of PFOA or PFOS that exceed one pound within a 24-hour period to the National Response Center, as well as state and local authorities. This rule aims to catch and address PFAS contamination quickly, preventing further environmental and public health damage.

Financial and Legal Consequences for Polluters:

Designating these chemicals as hazardous substances under the Superfund law exposes companies to potentially billions in liabilities. Industries using these chemicals have expressed concerns over the costs and potential for increased litigation. However, this move prioritizes public health and environmental integrity over corporate profit, ensuring that those responsible for pollution bear the costs of remediation.

What This Means for Communities and Water Suppliers:

The rule is a significant step forward for communities, particularly low-income and minority communities that often bear the brunt of environmental contamination. It not only facilitates swifter clean-up actions but also ensures that polluters are financially responsible. This development follows on the heels of other significant legal actions, such as 3M’s $10.3 billion settlement last year to address PFAS contamination in public water supplies.

The Role of Legal Advocacy in Shaping Environmental Policy:

At Marin, Barrett, and Murphy, we remain committed to using legal avenues to advocate for environmental justice and public health. This new EPA rule aligns with our ongoing efforts to hold polluters accountable and to ensure that affected communities receive the necessary resources for dealing with PFAS contamination.


The EPA’s decision to list PFOA and PFOS as hazardous substances marks a crucial advancement in the fight against PFAS contamination. It represents a significant shift towards holding polluters financially accountable for their actions, reinforcing the principle that environmental protection and public health are paramount. As we move forward, our firm will continue to monitor developments in this area and support communities in navigating the complexities of these new regulations. If your community has been impacted by PFAS, remember, you are not alone—the Marin, Barrett, and Murphy Law Firm stands ready to help.