PFAS Awareness

Thank you for visiting our Shamrock Technologies PFAS Awareness Page. We have developed this content to share the latest, most accurate information on the ongoing situation in and around our facilities in Henderson, KY. As you may have heard or read, we discovered substances called PFAS in and around our facilities and quickly reported it to the Kentucky Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). We are currently working with the DEP to determine where and how much PFAS is present.

We also plan to work with the City of Henderson on the new PFAS Working Group to gain a better understanding of the situation and what, if anything, needs to happen to ensure our community continues to be a safe and healthy place to live and work.

At Shamrock Technologies, we believe openness and transparency are important. We encourage you to bookmark and visit this page on a regular basis for updates.

 

Fast Facts

  • Safety is Shamrock Technologies’ number one concern. Nothing is more important to us than the safety and wellbeing of our employees and the people of Henderson.
  • We first found PFAS in and around our three facilities while conducting environmental testing in 2018 and quickly notified the Kentucky DEP. We made immediate housekeeping changes, began investigating the extent of PFAS and entered into an Agreed Order with the Kentucky DEP for implementation of remedial actions.
  • All test results show that Henderson’s municipal water and private-well water near our facilities are well within EPA guidelines.
  • Currently there are no state or federal standards for PFAS. Shamrock violated no laws and remains in full compliance with all guidelines and policies with EPA and state regulators to identify and take corrective actions to protect on-site and off-site areas from PFAS compounds, including drinking water, air, soil and groundwater.
  • Protecting workers and our community from potential harmful exposures remains a primary concern of our plant operations. We are committed to working with the DEP and the community on any steps necessary to address, contain or remove these substances.

 

What does Shamrock Technologies do?

Shamrock Technologies is an 80-year-old company that today is the leader in recycling PTFE to produce PTFE micropowders. We employ more than 120 people in our three facilities in Henderson, KY.

Our products are essential to many everyday businesses, processes and finished goods. For example, they are used in greases and lubricants to prevent wear in farm tractors that produce food crops. In plastic medical devices to help them move more smoothly and last longer. In inks to prevent potentially harmful pigments from rubbing off.

Shamrock Technologies is committed to making the world a safer, cleaner and better place. We recycle PTFE so less new PTFE needs to be produced to meet the world’s needs. This has significant positive effects on the environment. We have recycled more than 150 million pounds of PTFE, which has effectively kept an estimated 1.5 billion pounds of CO2 emissions out of our atmosphere.

In 2021, we were awarded the Gold Medal in the annual EcoVadis sustainability assessment. EcoVadis ranks 75,000 companies from more than 200 industries to provide a measurement of corporate social responsibility. Based on our positive impact on the environment, labor and human rights, ethics and sustainable procurement, Shamrock Technologies ranked in the top 5% of all companies.

ABOUT PFAS

What are PFAS?

According to the American Chemical Society (ACS), PFAS stands for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances. “Some 5,000 to 7,000 chemicals are categorized as PFAS, which are used to make products from firefighting foams to nonstick cookware,” the ACS explains. “Many are immensely useful.” In addition to the products mentioned above, PFAS also are used in the production of food packaging, leather products, lubricants and other goods. PFAS are used in so many places and in so many products that these substances can be found in tiny amounts throughout our environment.

Who found PFAS in Henderson?

In 2018, Shamrock Technologies discovered the presence of PFAS in and around our facilities in Henderson, KY. We quickly reported this to the Kentucky Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). Since then, we have been working closely with the DEP to determine the full extent of the presence of PFAS in a process called “characterization.”

THE STEPS WE ARE TAKING

What is Shamrock Technologies doing to find out where and how much PFAS is present?

Per our Agreed Order with the DEP, we have completed air emission testing. We have also completed air dispersion modeling to determine potential areas where PFAS may have migrated. We have conducted on-site and off-site testing of the soil, surface and groundwater both at our three Henderson facilities and up to a radius of one half-mile from each facility to characterize the extent of the presence of PFAS. We are currently performing additional testing of the soil, surface and groundwater up to one mile away from our facilities toward the north.

What else has Shamrock Technologies done to address this situation?

In 2019, we removed two underground storage tanks from our property that were used to collect scrubber water and storm runoff when we discovered a small amount of PFAS in the tanks. We have also upgraded our housekeeping and dust-containment standards, installed filters on fans that blow air outside of our buildings and installed vacuums to improve fugitive dust emissions. We now safely and securely transport scrubber water and storm runoff off-site for disposal.

We continue to evaluate and upgrade our operations to take advantage of improvements in the latest technology, air monitoring and ventilation with the goal of minimizing the presence of PFAS in and around our facilities.

What is Shamrock Technologies doing to decrease the presence of PFAS in our environment?

Shamrock Technologies has successfully transitioned the major products in our current PTFE micropowder portfolio toward REACH Compliance. REACH is a set of regulations created in Europe designed to protect human health and the environment from unacceptable risks posed by chemicals. We are now shipping these products globally. However, we also are pushing toward more stringent standards. This push is complemented by our expanded portfolio of non-PTFE products that approach the same performance benefits in finished goods such as surface coatings, lubricants, plastics, inks, brake pads and others.

What happens next?

Shamrock Technologies supports openness and transparency. The information we submit to the DEP, including test results, becomes part of the public record. Copies can be obtained by a Freedom of Information Act request.

The Agreed Order we voluntarily signed with the state sets the process for us to determine the extent of PFAS and for taking any necessary steps to address, contain or remove contaminants. Shamrock is meeting all steps under the Agreed Order. The state reviews Shamrock’s work, and Shamrock responds to all requests from the state for information or additional work.

Shamrock Technologies will also participate in Henderson’s new PFAS Working Group, established to help everyone in the community better understand what this situation means for all of us.

Our employees and their families work and live in this community. Their safety and their neighbors’ safety are our top priorities. We look forward to continuing to work with the DEP and the City of Henderson, and we look forward to continuing to act as a positive presence in our community.

COMMUNITY SAFETY

Is our drinking water safe?

Yes.

It’s important to note that the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has established a non-enforceable “health advisory” for acceptable levels of PFAS. This advisory is defined as a level of 70 parts per trillion in drinking water.

To date, extensive testing has found no instances of PFAS exceeding this level in municipal drinking water or private drinking-water wells.

To put this in perspective, 70 parts per trillion is less than one drop of liquid in an Olympic-size swimming pool.

As stated above, PFAS are found in tiny amounts throughout our environment. In fact, when the Kentucky DEP tested levels of PFAS in the Ohio River in 2019, levels were higher in some places upstream from Henderson than they were in Henderson – although even these levels were very low. In other words, the section of the Ohio River running through Henderson is cleaner than some sections where our river water flows from.

Are the employees safe?

Yes.

The health and safety of our employees and our neighbors is our top priority. Our employees have access to and are trained in the proper use of personal protection equipment (PPE), as appropriate. We have several additional layers of operational protection in the manufacturing of our products, including proper housekeeping measures to our safety measures for all working surfaces, floors and disposal practices. 

What about PFAS in groundwater wells?

It’s important that we are very clear on this point.  The groundwater wells that have been referenced to have been found with elevated PFAS are not wells used for drinking water. They are test wells.

Again, all tests have shown Henderson’s drinking water sources are well within EPA guidelines for healthful drinking water.

Any mention of “groundwater wells” should be understood as a reference to the groundwater monitoring wells we drilled in order to run tests during the onsite and offsite characterization work. These are not water wells used for drinking water, livestock watering or agriculture use. They are wells solely for the purpose of testing. Certain groundwater samples from Shamrock’s test wells showed PFAS contamination levels of .03%.

 

Additional resources:

Op-ed: Setting the record straight on PFAS in Henderson: Read this piece in The Gleaner to learn more from our director of manufacturing (and Henderson resident), Michael Jusslia.