Governor DeWine Launches Statewide Firefighting Foam Takeback Program

(FAIRBORN, Ohio)— Ohio Governor Mike DeWine today launched a first-of-its-kind initiative to destroy hazardous per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in firefighting foam.

During an event at Wright State University’s Calamityville training facility in Fairborn today, Governor DeWine announced details of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency’s new Aqueous Film-Forming Foam (AFFF) Takeback Program. AFFF is primarily used by fire departments to smother flammable liquid fires, but its high concentrations of PFAS compounds – often called “forever” chemicals – resist typical environmental degradation processes and cause long-term contamination of water, soil, and air.  

Using PFAS Annihilator® technology developed by Battelle, which is headquartered in Columbus, the AFFF Takeback Program will destroy PFAS in firefighting foam to non-detectable levels through the process of supercritical water oxidation. 

“The development of this technology is just another example of how Ohio continues to lead the nation in innovation,” said Governor DeWine. “Through this new program, we’re destroying PFAS, which was once believed to be indestructible, to protect our first responders and safeguard the environment.” 

VIDEO & SOUND: AFFF Takeback Program Launch

Battelle’s PFAS Annihilator technology uses extreme heat and pressure to chemically transform PFAS into carbon dioxide and inert salt, destroying the PFAS and leaving behind no harmful byproducts or residual contamination. This technology differs from other AFFF disposal methods, such as incineration, which destroys the foam but releases that PFAS into the air, or landfilling, which results in contaminated landfill leachate. 

“We are excited that Governor DeWine has committed the resources to allow fire departments across the state to access this cutting-edge technology developed by our partners at Battelle,” said Ohio EPA Director Anne Vogel.

As of this morning, approximately 1,000 gallons of foam were turned in during today’s takeback event in Fairborn. The foam will be destroyed by Battelle spinoff company and subcontractor Revive Environmental Technology

“I am proud of the Battelle team, and our partners at Revive Environmental, who have devoted their time and expertise to tackle such an important and challenging problem facing our state,” said Battelle President and CEO Lou Von Thaer. “This is what we do at Battelle: We find the toughest problems and use science to develop solutions that will make an impact and help improve the world.”

LEARN MORE: PFAS Annihilator® Technology

According to the Ohio Department of Health, exposure to PFAS has been found to affect the immune system, increase the risk of certain cancers, impact fertility, and affect the growth and behavior of infants and children. In 2022, Governor DeWine signed a bill banning the use of AFFF in firefighter training exercises, and as a result, many fire departments are using PFAS-free alternatives to extinguish flammable liquid fires. 

“It’s undeniable that firefighting remains a dangerous profession, fraught with risks that go beyond the flames. Initiatives like the AFFF Takeback Program, however, represent a significant stride in lessening those risks, particularly from toxic exposures,” said Deputy Fire Marshal Richard Sluder.

The AFFF Takeback Program is operated at no cost to local fire departments, but agencies must register their AFFF materials at oh.revive-environmental.com to be scheduled for collection at future takeback events.

The program is funded with $3 million in settlement money that Ohio received as part of the state’s polychlorinated biphenyl enforcement case against Monsanto, filed by then-Attorney General DeWine in 2018.

The creation of the AFFF Takeback Program is the latest effort by the DeWine-Husted Administration to address PFAS contamination in Ohio. In 2019, Governor DeWine ordered the development of a PFAS Action Plan to sample Ohio’s public drinking water systems for certain PFAS compounds, and last year, Ohio launched a statewide survey to measure the prevalence of PFAS in large rivers. 

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