Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Corporate gatekeepers and big tech monopolists are making it more difficult than ever for independent media to survive. Please chip in today.

The climate action and legal group Earthjustice sued the Department of Defense Thursday for endangering public health by unsafely incinerating PFAS, also known as "forever chemicals." (Photo: Master Sgt. Ken Hammond / U.S. Air Force / Wikimedia Commons)

Earthjustice Sues DOD for 'Short-sighted and Illegal' Incineration of PFAS in Communities Across Country

"Incineration does not solve the Defense Department's PFAS problems; it just pawns them off on already overburdened communities."

Julia Conley

Slamming the Department of Defense for endangering the health of people in communities across the U.S., environmental law group Earthjustice on Thursday filed a lawsuit against the Pentagon for the military's unsafe disposal of the class of substances known as "forever chemicals."

Earthjustice is suing the department over its contracts in communities across the country to incinerate unused firefighting foam, which contains PFAS, or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances. The chemicals are used in many everyday products, and the DOD is the nation's biggest user of firefighting foam that contains them.

Green groups call PFAS "forever chemicals" because they don't easily break down and can stay in the environment and people's bodies for decades after exposure.

In a statement, Earthjustice cited the CDC as saying "the presence and concentration of PFAS in U.S. drinking water presents 'one of the most seminal public health challenges for the next decades.'"

The DOD's unsafe incineration is taking place towns across the country, including East Liverpool, Ohio; Arkadelphia and El Dorado, Arkansas; and Cohoes, New York. East Liverpool was among the towns named as a plaintiff in Earthjustice's suit.

Earthjustice said in its lawsuit that the DOD practices are potentially exposing residents to cancer and other health problems.

"The Department of Defense failed to conduct any environmental review before approving this incineration, bringing into new communities the risk of PFAS emissions and other pollution that are proven to harm public health," Earthjustice said.

The government's contracts to incinerate the foam are in violation of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), Earthjustice said, which states that the DOD must incinerate PFAS at a high enough temperature to break them down and that it's required to phase out foam that contains the chemicals.

"DOD's decision to authorize large-scale PFAS incineration without considering the health impacts is shortsighted and illegal," Jonathan Kalmuss-Katz, a staff attorney with Earthjustice, told The Hill.

"Incineration does not solve the Defense Department's PFAS problems; it just pawns them off on already overburdened communities," he added.

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

WHO to Convene Emergency Meeting on Monkeypox Outbreak

Leading public health experts plan to discuss the ongoing outbreak as the number of confirmed cases in the U.K. more than doubled on Friday to 20.

Kenny Stancil ·

Nearly 90,000 Small Businesses in US Expected to Close After Senate GOP Kills Main Street Relief Bill

"The fate of these small businesses," said one advocacy group, "will be tied to those senators who voted down this lifeline today."

Julia Conley ·

To 'Have Our Own Media' Is Key to Political Power, Orbán Tells US Right-Wingers

Hungary's strongman prime minister gave the recommendations at CPAC's first-ever gathering in Europe.

Andrea Germanos ·

Documents Show Baby Formula Maker Enriched Shareholders Amid Deadly Bacteria Outbreak

"Abbott chose to prioritize shareholders by issuing billions of dollars in stock buybacks instead of making productive investments," said one economist.

Jake Johnson ·

Warning Bourdeaux Supports Cuts, Social Security Defenders Back McBath in Georgia Primary

A group that works to defend Social Security endorsed Rep. Lucy McBath, arguing that—unlike her opponent—she "will fight to protect and expand Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid."

Jake Johnson ·

Common Dreams Logo