By two letters dated June 14, 2016, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (“NYSDEC”) initiated two information requests to businesses across the State to identify the use of certain perfluorinated compounds (“PFCs”). The letters were sent to chemical bulk storage facilities, petroleum bulk storage facilities, major oil storage facilities, fire departments and airports. NYSDEC added certain PFCs to New York’s list of hazardous substances by emergency regulations on January 27, 2016, and added other PFCs on April 25, 2016. Final rulemaking regulating these substances is ongoing, with the public comment period closing July 8, 2016.
One of NYSDEC’s letters requires completion of a survey to identify the use, storage, manufacture, release or disposal of PFCs. The second letter focuses on users of PFCs in connection with fire suppression foams, informs users of new registration, storage, use and disposal requirements, and also surveys past usage of foams to identify possible soil or groundwater contamination. The goal of these letters is to collect information from businesses across the State about the use of PFCs, the phase-in of requirements leading to a permanent prohibition of PFC releases, and to identify facilities and other sites where PFCs have caused environmental contamination. NYSDEC is clearly focusing on businesses where PFCs were either manufactured, used to make other products, released or disposed of.
If you receive one or both of NYSDEC’s letters, be mindful of the importance of determining how the new PFC regulations and NYSDEC’s information requests may impact your business. Care must be taken in considering responses to NYSDEC inquiries. Information requests of this kind often have a long-term horizon in NYSDEC evaluation and use, and may lead to further requests for information or subject sites to environmental investigation and/or remediation. In fact, many businesses are still dealing with the fall-out from responding to similar surveys in the 1980s.