Ohio launches takeback initiative to eliminate PFAS from firefighting foam

March 21, 2024

Ohio’s governor announces a pioneering statewide AFFF takeback program

On March 18, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine visited to Wright State University’s Calamityville campus to introduce a new statewide program aimed at eliminating hazardous substances known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) found in firefighting foam.

This initiative, known as the Aqueous Film Forming Foam (AFFF) Takeback Program, is set to utilize innovative PFAS Annihilator technology, marking it as the first of its kind in the nation to not only collect but also destroy both the firefighting foam and the PFAS contained within.

During the launch event, it was anticipated that several southwest Ohio fire departments would contribute over 1000 gallons of AFFF for destruction.

The departments participating in the program were provided with the opportunity to drop off containers filled with AFFF, subsequently receiving guided tours to understand the process undertaken by the PFAS annihilator in breaking down and eliminating the PFAS to non-detectable levels.

The technology behind PFAS destruction

The PFAS Annihilator technology represents a significant advancement in environmental protection, employing a closed-loop, on-site destruction process that leverages supercritical water oxidation to effectively neutralize PFAS compounds found in AFFF.

This method ensures that PFAS are destroyed to levels that are not detectable, offering a safe and efficient solution for dealing with these hazardous substances.

All fire stations involved in the takeback program are set to receive certificates of destruction, acknowledging their participation in this environmentally responsible initiative.

Funding and support for the takeback program

The AFFF Takeback Program has been made possible through a $3 million funding sourced from settlement money awarded to Ohio in a polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) enforcement case against Monsanto.

This case, filed by then-Attorney General DeWine in 2018, has provided the financial backbone for this pioneering environmental initiative.

Moreover, the National Ground Water Association (NGWA) has been instrumental in spearheading efforts related to PFAS research, education, and resources, offering invaluable support to both the public and scientific communities interested in groundwater contamination issues.

For more information and resources on PFAS, the NGWA hosts a comprehensive resource center at NGWA.org/PFAS, including updated facts sheets and position papers.

FSJA Comment

The Ohio AFFF Takeback Program represents a proactive step towards addressing the environmental and health concerns posed by PFAS compounds in firefighting foams.

By implementing a solution that not only collects but also safely destroys PFAS, Ohio sets a precedent for other states to follow.

This initiative reflects a growing recognition of the need for innovative technologies and collaborative efforts to mitigate the impact of hazardous substances on our environment.

The program’s launch is a testament to the effectiveness of leveraging legal settlements for environmental protection efforts, demonstrating how funds obtained through enforcement actions can be reinvested into meaningful, community-focused initiatives.

As other states look to address similar environmental challenges, Ohio’s approach offers a model for combining technological innovation with strategic funding sources to achieve significant environmental benefits.

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