The Stream, June 25, 2020: New Rule Could Exempt Companies from Reporting Certain PFAS Releases

The Global Rundown

A new exemption being drafted by U.S. federal regulators would exempt companies from reporting certain releases of PFAS into the environment. Early test results show low levels of dioxin contamination in mid-Michigan in the wake of historic flooding last month. Heavy rainfall deluges western Ukraine, killing three people and forcing hundreds to evacuate. A new report from the Environmental Working Group warns that nitrate levels have increased in several Wisconsin water systems. Venezuela’s Zulia state, where water is in short supply, becomes a coronavirus hotspot. 

“The hospital is totally contaminated. Nobody knows who has COVID-19 and who doesn’t. Every floor is full of people, and they aren’t doing anything about it.” –A health worker at the University Hospital of Maracaibo in reference to the unchecked spread of Covid-19 in Venezuela’s Zulia state. The region is among the hardest-hit by Venezuela’s chronic power and water shortages, and Zulia capital city Maracaibo is known for its poor sanitation. Venezuela reports just over 4,000 coronavirus cases reported in Venezuela, with 35 deaths. Reuters 

Latest WaterNews from Circle of Blue

HotSpots H2O: Aid Groups Airlift Water and Sanitation Supplies to VenezuelaThe United Nations Children’s Fund last week shipped 90 tons of medicine, water, and sanitation supplies to Venezuela, the third such shipment to the country since the coronavirus crisis began. 

What’s Up With Water – June 22, 2020 — This week’s edition of What’s Up With Water includes coverage on the Mekong River basin, Venezuela’s economic collapse, and steps being taken by commercial buildings to lower the risk of Legionnaires’ disease as society reopens from Covid-19 lockdowns. 

By The Numbers

800 People who have been evacuated from western Ukrainian towns since Monday due to flooding, according to Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov. Torrential rains have slammed the region, deluging fields and roads and leaving three people dead. Reuters 

303 Municipal drinking water systems in Wisconsin that had elevated nitrate levels between 2003 and 2017, based on data gathered by the Environmental Working Group (EWG). The study notes that nitrate levels in several of the systems, including Madison-area suburbs, rose in that time frame. An EWG senior economic analyst clarified that the levels don’t necessarily exceed federal safety standards, but represent what EWG considers a concerning trend. Wisconsin State Journal 

Science, Studies, and Reports

On Monday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued a rule requiring companies to report releases of PFAS chemicals into water, air, or soil. The rule includes 172 different types of PFAS and requires companies to report any annual releases of more than 100 pounds into a waterway. A new draft regulation would exempt companies from the reporting requirements if no single PFAS chemical exceeded 1 percent of the mixture released. Envrionmentalists have decried the potential exemption, saying it undermines attempts to regulate the toxic “forever chemicals.” The Guardian

In context: From Michigan to the Nation — A Groundwater Emergency.

On the Radar

Early test results in the wake of mid-Michigan flooding last month show low levels of dioxin in sediments along the Tittabawasee and Saginaw river floodplains. Officials feared that the flooding, which occurred after two dams breached near Midland, Michigan, stirred up dioxins and other toxic chemicals at the local Dow Chemical complex. Early testing has not detected levels of dioxins that exceed clean-up thresholds. MLive 

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