Sanders Joins Effort to Release Report on Toxic Substances

BURLINGTON, Vt., May 16 – U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) joined an effort with 10 other senators calling on EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt and other administration officials to immediately release a study reportedly being kept secret by the Trump administration which shows that perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are dangerous at far lower levels than EPA previously said was safe.

Since 2016, elevated and unsafe levels of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), a type of PFAS, have been found in hundreds of private wells and one municipal water system in southwestern Vermont.  The groundwater contamination is the product of past industrial manufacturing in the area.

“The Trump administration’s decision to protect the chemical industry and put its interests ahead of the health of our children and grandchildren is unconscionable,” said Sanders, who serves on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. “The report the EPA helped bury may actually show that the chemical PFOA is more dangerous than the agency has previously claimed. The decision to delay the release of this information is very troubling, especially since many of my constituents in southern Vermont are facing PFOA contamination in their wells. The EPA should stand for sound science and environmental protection, and not protecting the profits of chemical corporations.”

Sanders and the coalition of senators also demanded that Pruitt release all internal documents and communications regarding discussion about the attempted cover-up of the report.

“We are writing in response to a troubling report that officials from the White House, Office of Management and Budget, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Department of Defense (DOD) intervened in order to delay the release of a study by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) concerning the health effects of perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS),” the letter states. “The unreleased HHS assessment reportedly concludes that those chemicals pose a danger to human health at a far lower level than EPA has previously said was safe. If this report is accurate and administration officials sought to suppress release of critical public health information in the interest of avoiding a ‘public relations nightmare,’ it is an unacceptable failure of leadership and a failure to protect public health.”

The May 15 letter, which was led by U.S. Sen Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), was also signed by Sens. Tom Carper (D-DE), Charles Schumer (D-NY), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Ed Markey (D-MA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Patty Murray (D-WA), Gary Peters (D-MI) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH). 

Identical letters are being sent to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, Secretary of Defense James Mattis and Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney.

To read the letter, click here