A new rule implemented by the EPA designates two common chemicals—perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS)—as hazardous substances under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), or Superfund law.

While the rule could help communities, business and property owners that are paying to clean up contaminated sites under the Superfund, the new rules could also add enormous uncertainties. Those uncertainties could increase costs and liability risks for multiple parties, including past and present owners of a facility with hazardous substances; past and present operators of those facilities; companies that generated the chemicals disposed of at a facility; and companies that transport them.

According to Bloomberg, this is the first time that the EPA has directly designated hazardous substances under CERCLA. The other 800 hazardous substances subject to CERCLA controls were listed because they first qualified as hazards under other environmental laws.

Due to the EPA’s economic impact analyses, as well as the rule’s comprehensive effects, Environmental & Natural Resources partner and co-leader of Pillsbury's PFAS task force Reza Zarghamee believes the new regulations could be challenged as an arbitrary and capricious burden on the industry.

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