A new Illinois law has made it illegal to incinerate per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, better known as PFAS, within the state. The bill, HB 3190, was signed by Gov. J.B. Pritzker June 8 and is designed to address concerns from environmental justice communities who are often exposed to the consequences of industrial pollution.
The recently passed law is an updated version of a similar bill presented to Pritzker in August 2021. The previous bill was swiftly vetoed due to its definition of “incineration,” with the governor stating in a letter that the term was “overly broad” and would prevent waste management companies from using other pollution control devices, including thermal oxidation.
According to Pritzker, the bill’s prior terminology would further result in a substantial increase in emissions of greenhouse gases, PFAS, fluorides, hazardous air pollutants, volatile organic materials and carbon monoxide.
The new legislation will now allow for incineration by thermal oxidizer when operated as a pollution control device, with some exemptions for medical waste.
Supporters of the bill, including the Illinois chapter of the Sierra Club and the community group United Congregations of Metro East, have expressed that the legislation stems from community concerns regarding an incineration plant in Sauget, Illinois, run by Veolia Environmental Services.
The Veolia facility previously held a permit to incinerate firefighting foam, which is infamous for its high PFAS concentrations, but the company says it is not accepting the material.
In a statement to Waste Today, Veolia President and CEO Bob Cappadona says, “Veolia North America made the decision to not accept PFAS-related materials at the Sauget facility several years ago. As such, the legislation has little to no impact on our operations,”
He adds, “We worked collaboratively with our government representatives to ensure that their concerns were addressed while not impacting the services that we provide to customers across the country for the protection of our environmental health and safety. We will continue to support the ongoing research and all regulatory agencies as they work to address this important environmental issue.”
Similar PFAS laws have been passed in states like New York, which passed a statewide ban on the incineration of firefighting foam in November of last year.As previously reported in Waste Today, the bill specifically targeted Cohoes, New York-based Norlite—the only facility in the state that burned the substance, also known as aqueous film-forming foam, or AFFF.