Last month, Governor Murphy signed a bill that affects the use of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (“PFAS”) in firefighting foam. The law, approved as P.L.2023, c.243 (Bill A4125 or S2712), accomplishes a few things: it (1) largely prohibits PFAS-containing firefighting foam, (2) asks the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) to form a collection and disposal program, and (3) appropriates $250,000 towards the program. Each component is discussed in more detail below.

As mentioned, the new law prohibits the use, sale, offer for sale, manufacture, or distribution for sale or use of “any class B firefighting foam containing intentionally added PFAS” in New Jersey. Class B foams are those “designed to prevent or extinguish a fire in flammable liquids, combustible liquids, petroleum greases, tars, oils, oil-based paints, solvents, lacquers, alcohols, and flammable gases.” Moreover, “intentionally added PFAS” refers to “PFAS added to a product or one of the product’s components to provide a specific characteristic, appearance, or quality or to perform a specific function[,]” including “any degradation byproducts of PFAS.” In essence, the law broadly outlaws PFAS-laden firefighting foam.

As to timing, the law became effective January 8, 2024, and becomes enforceable within two years of that date. However, some users are granted greater leeway to phase out the material: whereas certain industrial facilities have a four-year timeline to remove the material from operations, oil refineries and petroleum terminals are given eight years, with the option to apply for two additional two-year waivers. All waivers must expire within twelve years of the effective date.

Next, the law requires NJDEP to establish a program for the collection and safe disposal of the subject class B firefighting foams with intentionally added PFAS. NJDEP will likely have instructions for how parties may participate. Commonly referred to as “take-back” programs, we previously reported that other states have adopted similar programs to combat PFAS use in firefighting foam.

Lastly, the law designates $250,000 as initial funding for grants to qualifying municipalities. The funds are meant to cover the costs associated with municipalities replacing their firefighting foams in accordance with the new law. We will keep you posted regarding take-back program instructions as they develop.