WASHINGTON | The Latest: Senate to hold hearings on toxic chemical plan

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on the Environmental Protection Agency’s plan for dealing with long-lasting chemicals known as PFAS (all times local):

10:35 a.m.
The chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee says a plan outlined by the Environmental Protection Agency is only a first step toward protecting the public from highly toxic chemicals in drinking water.

GOP Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming says the panel will conduct a hearing this spring on the blueprint announced Thursday by Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler.

Barrasso says the agency must “speak clearly” about risks posed by a class of chemicals known as PFAS and must be willing to take “decisive action” where warranted.

Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire says the plan “falls short of delivering the certainty” that people exposed to PFAS contamination deserve. She says it lacks a commitment to develop enforceable drinking water standards.

The Environmental Protection Agency says it will move ahead this year with a process that could lead to setting a safety threshold for a group of highly toxic chemicals in drinking water.


9 a.m.
The Environmental Protection Agency says it will move ahead this year with a process that could lead to setting a safety threshold for a group of highly toxic chemicals in drinking water.

Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler on Thursday in Philadelphia was announcing the agency’s first nationwide plan for dealing with long-lasting contaminants known as PFAS.

The contaminants have been detected in many public drinking water systems and private wells around the country. The chemicals are used in firefighting foam and a variety of nonstick, water-repellent products.

Wheeler is proposing “a regulatory determination” for two common forms of the compounds. That’s a first step toward a threshold at which treatment to remove the contaminants would be required.


5:35 a.m.
The Environmental Protection Agency is expected to announce a plan for dealing with a class of long-lasting chemical contaminants amid complaints from members of Congress and environmentalists that it’s not moved aggressively enough to regulate them.

So-called forever chemicals, perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl compounds, or PFAS, pose “a very important threat,” acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said in an interview with ABC News Live ahead of a scheduled briefing Thursday in Philadelphia.

Wheeler said the agency was moving forward with the process under the Safe Drinking Water Act that could lead to new safety thresholds for the presence of the chemicals in water, but he did not commit in the interview to setting standards.

The chemicals are found in consumer products ranging from fabrics, rugs and carpets to cooking pots and pans, outdoor gear, shampoo, shaving cream, makeup and even dental floss. Increasing numbers of states have found them seeping into drinking water supplies.

By Associated Press