In April 2016, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) completed an emergency rulemaking regarding four perfluorochemicals compounds, adding them to the list of hazardous substances in Part 597.
These substances have been and in some cases may still be components in common use Class B fire suppression foams. The NYDEC rule has three major impacts on the storage and use of Class B firefighting foams:
- If a facility stores a Class B foam, it may be subject to the registration and storage requirements of the DEC’s Chemical Bulk Storage (CBS) regulations (6NYCRR Parts 596 – 599).
- The release of one pound or more of one of these hazardous substances into the environment is prohibited. Part 597 allows the use of Class B firefighting foam containing PFOS or PFOA for fighting fires (not for training) until April 25, 2017.
- Where there has been a release of one or more of these hazardous substances causing environmental contamination, cleanup may be required under one of the DEC’s remedial programs (i.e., State Superfund or a Brownfields Program).
The DEC regulations allow for continued use of Class B firefighting foam that contains these substances until April 25, 2017. However, if a Class B foam that contains these hazardous substances is used to fight a fire and more than one pound of a hazardous substance is released into the environment, then the release must be reported to the DEC’s Spill Hotline.
If the Class B firefighting foam being used contains hazardous substances such that you cannot use it without releasing one pound or more of a hazardous substance, then NYCEC rules require it to be replaced on or before April 25, 2017.