[Opinion] Dunleavy’s veto of ‘forever chemicals’ ban betrays Alaskans and harms our health

September 6, 2023

Read the full article by Pamela Miller (Anchorage Daily News)

"With the stroke of his veto pen, Gov. Mike Dunleavy blatantly betrayed the voters of Alaska, people in communities affected by per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, aka PFAS, as well as the 58 of 60 members of the Alaska State House and Senate who worked across party lines to pass a bill, House Bill 51, that would have been a significant step toward preventing further harm from these dangerous chemicals. The governor and his administration have ignored the exhaustive legislative process conducted by Alaska’s elected leaders and discounted the cries for help from communities across the state already contaminated with PFAS. The measure was supported by affected communities, tribes and Native organizations, and organizations of health care professionals.

PFAS contamination of our waters is a pervasive problem that threatens public health. Most of the water contamination in Alaska communities has been caused by the dispersive use of PFAS-based industrial firefighting foams — aqueous film-forming foams, or AFFF — on airports, refineries and military bases. Public drinking water sources and hundreds of residential wells are contaminated throughout our state. PFAS contaminate groundwater and surface waters, fish, wild game, garden produce, and backyard chickens. Several Alaska lakes are now closed to fishing because of PFAS contamination.

Alaska Community Action on Toxics, or ACAT, conducted independent water quality testing and published a report in February 2023 that found PFAS contamination in all lakes tested in the Fairbanks North Star Borough and Anchorage, as well as in Ship Creek. Levels of PFAS in Anchorage lakes and Ship Creek are similar to those that triggered fish consumption advisories by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game for certain lakes in the Fairbanks North Star Borough. Currently, there are 469 sites in Alaska where PFAS contamination has been identified in soil and water, according to the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation."