On March 22, 2022, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) published the final version of its PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) Monitoring Plan. The plan addresses issues identified in Minnesota’s PFAS Blueprint, released in February 2021. It also responds to public comments submitted to the MPCA pertaining to the draft version of the PFAS Monitoring Plan, which was published in November 2021.
Barr works with clients and regulators to help them understand PFAS, assess risks, gather data, and develop long-term solutions. As a leader in addressing PFAS issues in air, water, and soil, Barr has compiled several takeaways from the final MPCA plan:
1. Monitoring could be required by state law. The MPCA says acquiring PFAS monitoring data is critical to “fulfill MPCA’s mission to protect human health and the environment.” MPCA’s current approach is to implement the PFAS Monitoring Plan through voluntary memorandums of understanding (MOUs). However, in response to public comments, MPCA indicated that Minnesota Statutes, Chapter 115.03(b) may soon require facilities to conduct monitoring.
2. Specific facilities have been identified. The MPCA’S draft plan indicated that the agency would use North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) code to identify facilities it would ask to monitor for PFAS. The final plan, however, lists facilities that MPCA has identified already. If a facility has multiple permits, the MPCA will notify the facility of the media they will be asked to monitor.
3. Timing of implementation is yet to be determined. The timeframe in which a facility will be asked to begin monitoring will depend on the specific program. For example, the industrial stormwater program will begin sending letters in 2022, with monitoring to begin in late 2022 or early 2023; but in most cases, the timing is unspecified.
4. Questions remain regarding analytical methods and labs. Both the draft plan and the final plan raise questions about the use of labs and the analytes to be sampled. The final plan acknowledges the use of labs accredited under Minnesota’s Environmental Lab Accreditation Program (MNELAP), but they also state that other methods are often available and valid for measuring a given set of analytes. Thus, it is unclear whether a laboratory accredited in Minnesota must be used. Similarly, the plan states that permittees will be asked to report all PFAS analytes provided by the specific methods used to analyze the samples. Specific parameter lists and methodologies can vary by laboratory. Barr can assist with navigating lab and analytical method selection, in addition to support with sampling protocols, data quality, and lab validation.
5. Data will be public. Historically, PFAS monitoring and quantification has often been conducted with confidentiality protections due to the sensitive nature of the topic. Similarly, raw-material composition can be considered a trade secret. Under MPCA’s new plan, all data submitted to MPCA will be publicly available upon request, unless the information is deemed nonpublic under the relevant portions of Minnesota Statutes, Chapter 13. MPCA indicates that “PFAS monitoring results do not qualify as confidential business information.” Further, the MPCA cites an inability to take urgent action to protect public health as the reason it refuses to keep PFAS monitoring results confidential.
6. Facilities will be financially responsible for monitoring. The MPCA’s new monitoring plan requires all facilities to fund their own sampling and analysis costs. The MPCA intends to work with facilities on planning, timeline, and implementation so that facilities will have time to build the monitoring costs into their budgets. The MPCA is also looking for state grant funds to offset some of the costs; however, monitoring will proceed regardless of whether that funding is secured.
The MPCA’S final PFAS Monitoring Plan details additional information and requirements for its air, solid and hazardous waste, wastewater, industrial stormwater, and remediation program plans. Many of these details differ from those included in the draft plan. Barr’s experts in these program areas are available to help facilities across Minnesota address these pending requests from MPCA.
Since the early 2000s, Barr has developed and implemented highly effective multi-media PFAS detection, monitoring, remediation, and treatment solutions for industrial clients and municipalities. For an overview of recent projects, visit our PFAS Innovation and Insights page.
We will continue to monitor PFAS developments in Minnesota and around the world. For more information, contact us at PFAS@barr.com.