Insufficient funding for cleaning up toxic military sites contaminated with PFAS chemicals may cause decades-long delays, raising concerns about the Defense Department’s commitment to addressing the problem, warns an environmental group.
An environmental group has warned that the funding allocated for cleaning up toxic military sites contaminated with per fluorinated and polyfluorinated alkyl substances (PFAS) is insufficient and could lead to delays of several decades in completing the cleanup efforts. The Defense Department’s budget for the cleanup work has increased by only $400 million from 2016 to 2021, while the cost of cleaning up the “forever chemicals” has risen by $3.7 billion during the same period, reaching a total of about $31 billion. The disparity raises concerns about the department’s ability and commitment to solving the problem. The Environmental Working Group, which conducted the analysis, stated that without increased funding and focus on the issue, some sites contaminated with these toxic chemicals may not be cleaned up for more than 50 years. The chemicals have been linked to various health problems. The group is advocating for significantly increased funding in fiscal year 2024 and sustained high levels of funding until the problems are resolved. This funding disparity is expected to be a topic of debate during the upcoming congressional work on the defense authorization bill.