Hundreds Call on EPA to Stop Open Air Burning of PFAS and other Toxic Chemicals

Today, more than 260 people – representing more than 100 environmental and social justice organizations from the U.S. and its territories – co-signed an open letter calling on U.S. EPA Administrator Michael Regan to end the dangerous practice of open air burning and detonation to treat hazardous munitions wastes, including PFAS-laden flares.

The demilitarization of excess, obsolete, or unserviceable flares and other energetic waste currently relies on open burning and open detonation (OB/OD) – a practice that produces an ongoing uncontrolled release of PFAS and other toxic chemicals to the environment.

Pyrotechnic compositions of magnesium/Teflon/Viton (MTV) are widely used in military flares and for igniting the solid propellant of a rocket motor. Often referred to as “decoy” flares, countermeasure flares are comprised of as much as 45% PFAS.

PFAS are not destroyed in an open fire or open detonation and therefore are dispersed to the air and the surrounding environment where they accumulate in people, as well as fish and wildlife.

Nationwide, there are approximately 60 active private and public sector facilities that routinely conduct OB/OD of hazardous waste. All are currently permitted by the EPA or allowed by the agency to operate under “interim status” without any permit at all.

The munitions industry is the only industry in the United States that is still being permitted to burn hazardous waste to the open air – a practice that was formally banned by Congress in the 1980’s. The EPA has permitted the practice to continue for decades, despite the long-standing federal mandate.

Moreover, there are literally hundreds of former OB/OD sites across the U.S. that now require cleanup. In addition to widespread environmental damage, community members, base workers and service members have endured chronic exposure to toxic metals, dioxins, perchlorates, explosives, solvents, depleted uranium and PFAS.

The EPA’s own research has identified dozens of advanced technologies that are alternatives to OB/OD.  As recently as 2019, the EPA published an 83-page report titled Alternative Technologies to Open Burning and Open Detonation of Energetic Hazardous Wastes which identifies dozens of technologies which have been deployed and are commercially available.

The national letter was organized by Citizens for Safe Water Around Badger, a Wisconsin-based organization that works for a healthy and sustainable environment by engaging and empowering affected communities.

Photograph: Clean Harbors Colfax, Louisiana – routine open burning of hazardous waste including aerial flares has been permitted for decades under the authority of the U.S. EPA.



Complete URL for this CSWAB Update is




Laura Olah | Executive Director

Citizens for Safe Water Around Badger |

E12629 Weigand’s Bay South, Merrimac, WI 53561

P: 608 643 3124 | E: |