Alabama Incorporating PFAS Requirements into Permits for Certain Industrial Categories

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or “PFAS,” as they have come to be known, are a category of widely-used and long-lasting chemicals found in many consumer, commercial, and industrial products. The human health and environmental risks of PFAS are not fully understood; however, some scientific studies suggest that exposure to high levels of certain PFAS may lead to adverse health effects. While many states, including Alabama, do not have numeric water quality criteria for PFAS, state environmental agencies are taking steps to address PFAS in the environment – specifically through wastewater discharge permits.

In Alabama, the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (“ADEM”) implements the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (“NPDES”) and the State Indirect Discharge (“SID” or “pretreatment”) permitting programs. Recently, ADEM has begun incorporating PFAS monitoring and reporting requirements into individual NPDES and SID permits for certain industrial categories.

Although the list is not exhaustive, the affected categories will generally include:

  • Organic Chemicals, Plastics, and Synthetic Fibers (OCPSF)
  • Metal Finishing
  • Electroplating
  • Electrical/Electronic Components
  • Textile Mills
  • Leather Tanning/Finishing
  • Plastic Molding/Forming
  • Paint Formulating
  • Centralized Waste Treatment (CWT)
  • Landfills (leachate)

ADEM expects to require at least semi-annual monitoring of the forty PFAS parameters detectable by draft method 1633, using draft EPA Method 1633, 1621, or another approved method. Based on the results, ADEM may require facilities where PFAS are detected to develop and implement a PFAS Minimization Plan to control or abate the discharge of PFAS, which may include provisions such as: good housekeeping practices, product elimination or substitution when a reasonable alternative is available, decontamination and/or replacement of equipment associated with production and/or wastewater treatment, or installation and operation of appropriate PFAS treatment technology(ies).

ADEM’s plan follows a similar strategy outlined by the U.S. EPA in an April 28, 2022 Memorandum detailing how the agency is addressing PFAS discharges in EPA-issued NPDES permits, and expectations where EPA is the pretreatment control authority.

For assistance with PFAS issues or questions about state-specific PFAS requirements, please reach out to Burr & Forman’s environmental team.

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