Capito congratulates Martinsburg on approving reimbursement agreement for water supply cleanup

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Senator Shelley Moore Capito

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) applauded the Martinsburg City Council’s approval this evening of the U.S. Air Force’s proposed agreement to reimburse the city $4,915,628 for expenses related to the 2016 cleanup of certain perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in the city’s water supply.

“I’m so thrilled that the Martinsburg City Council has voted to accept this agreement with the Air Force and congratulate all of the local leaders who worked hard to make it happen,” Senator Capito said. “I’ve worked closely with Mayor Karos and City Manager Baldwin on this issue, and they—along with other local officials—truly deserve a lot of credit for their perseverance and determination.

We’ve been with them every step of the way, and as a member of the Appropriations Committee, I fought to secure the funds that made this reimbursement possible. When faced with this serious public health challenge, the city stepped up to protect the health and wellbeing of the community and its residents, and that was neither an easy nor an inexpensive effort. It’s been a long—at times, frustrating—process, but I’m glad to see this issue being resolved. I will continue doing what I can at the federal level to keep West Virginians and the communities they call home healthy and safe.”

As part of a continued effort to prevent future PFAS contamination and protect public health, Senator Capito last month introduced two bipartisan PFAS-related bills: the Protect Drinking Water from PFAS Act of 2019, which would require the EPA to establish an enforceable standard under the Safe Drinking Water Act for PFAS in drinking water; and the PFAS Release Disclosure Act,

which would provide a clear process for the EPA to identify and share with the public and policymakers sources of PFAS emissions. Both bills were considered last month during a Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee hearing Senator Capito participated in, specifically speaking to the PFAS issue and its impact to communities in West Virginia.

BACKGROUND

In 2016, the EPA identified high levels of PFAS in the City of Martinsburg’s water supply. The EPA mandated the installation of additional water filtration systems at the Martinsburg Big Springs water treatment plant to address the issue on the threat of enforcement actions, potentially including shutdown of the facility. Firefighting foam used by the Air National Guard at the Eastern Regional Airport was revealed to be the source of the contamination.

Senator Capito’s efforts to help the City of Martinsburg have included several conversations with Air Force officials and leadership and legislation passed in the Senate through the National Defense Authorization Act.

Those efforts culminated in securing language and funds through her position on the Senate Appropriations Committee in the FY2019 Department of Defense Appropriations Act to reimburse the city of Martinsburg for the significant costs involved in upgrading Big Springs.