PFAS Contamination Leading to Investigations and Litigation in Delaware
In December 2019, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), with support from the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC), held a public meeting to address the proposed listing of the Blades Groundwater Site in Sussex County, Delaware to the federal Superfund National Priorities List primarily on account of discovery in the local groundwater of elevated concentrations of various contaminants, including PFOA and PFOS, two types of per- and poly-flouoralkyl substances (PFAS). PFAS chemicals have not yet been declared hazardous under the federal Superfund program, although DNREC has identified certain PFAS chemicals, including PFOA and PFOS, as hazardous substances subject to its state cleanup program.
To date, the source of the PFAS contamination in Blades has not been confirmed, although EPA has identified two electroplating facilities in the area, one closed and one still in operation, that may have contributed to the groundwater contamination. In June 2019, residents of Blades filed a putative-class action lawsuit against one of the electroplating companies, Procino Plating Inc., as well as other companies allegedly associated with the manufacture and distribution of PFAS chemicals. The residents claim that they have been exposed to harmful amounts of PFAS through well water and the municipal water supply.
The town of Blades is one of three sites where PFAS chemicals have been detected in elevated concentrations in public water supplies in Delaware. The chemicals have also been found in water supplies in and near the New Castle County Airport as well as the Dover Air Force Base.