By: Ceil Mancini, Senior Scientist
Regulatory uncertainties surrounding per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) has made decision-making associated with mergers, acquisitions, and other business ventures more complex. If PFAS are present, the cost/benefit of the transaction could be negatively impacted. On the other hand, ‘waiting it out’ could take years, resulting in profitable but missed business opportunities.
Despite these uncertainties, and in the framework of the post-pandemic surge in industrial mergers and acquisitions, EHS Support is seeing an increased number of client requests to help assess potential liabilities and costs due to the possible presence of PFAS compounds at their sites and in their product lines or manufacturing processes, for both legacy sites and current operations. These assessments are triggered during mergers, acquisitions, divestitures, insurance policy renewals, and a variety of other business transactions. Owners and potential investors need to be informed and armed with enough accurate information to make profitable business decisions in a changing, science-based, regulatory climate.
Systematic consideration of relevant, site-specific information in the context of the local and regional regulatory framework, as well as a corporation’s specific goals and timelines, is essential to the decision process. The following is a summary of an iterative decision model developed by EHS Support:
Threshold Analysis. An initial review provides an understanding of whether the site is on a target list based on the manufacture or associated operations incorporating PFAS. The results of this analysis can influence the trajectory of regulatory interactions.
Current Operations. An assessment of current operations and incorporation of existing information may demonstrate that there are no current operational sources of PFAS. This process includes some obvious source questions such as the presence of aqueous film forming foam (AFFF) or fire systems, or supply chain materials that include PFAS. A well-documented site with no history may demonstrate a lack of PFAS concerns.
Historical Operations. An assessment of historical operations is similar to the assessment of current operations but addresses historical site activities and the potential for legacy contamination.
Off-site Supplemental Assessment. The supplemental assessment considers potential off-site sources that may impact/confuse the determination. It considers data availability and the local regulatory climate. Coupled with the results of the operational assessments above, the outcome of this assessment may result in a redirection of business strategies.
Uncertainty. Understanding the sources of uncertainty in the process provides insight on how they may influence the conclusions and the financial bottom line of the transaction, or in the case of an acquisition, whether or not it should proceed.
While concerns and uncertainties over ‘forever chemicals’ have clouded business decisions, systematic assessment based on good data may reveal opportunities. EHS Support’s PFAS technical team, with input from our regulatory compliance, due diligence, and auditing experts, have developed this screening model to inform our clients of their potential PFAS-related environmental liabilities. This systematic tool can be applied to a single site or a multi-site portfolio to determine the likelihood of PFAS being present. This critical information provides a foundation for informed business decisions and positive impacts on your bottom line.