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State of Michigan sues Gerald R. Ford Airport Authority for PFAS pollution

Gerald R. Ford International Airport near Grand Rapids
Photo courtesy of the Gerald R Ford International Airport

The State of Michigan is suing the Gerald R. Ford International Airport Authority for PFAS pollution.

The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) demanded the Grand Rapids airport provide information about the use of a firefighting foam containing PFAS at the airport. Aqueous Film Forming Foard (AFFF –sometimes called A-triple-F) has been used a many airports. It was the cause of widespread PFAS contamination at the former Wurtsmith Air Force Base in Oscoda, Michigan.

EGLE also wants the airport to remediate contamination there and at nearby wells.

On behalf of EGLE, the Attorney General’s office filed a lawsuit in the Kent County Circuit Court. The office said the suit was filed after repeated warnings and demands for action.

In a statement, the Airport Authority said it’s been collaborating with EGLE to research, test, and deploy solutions. It adds that it is “unfortunate” that discussions have come to an impasse despite years of environmental study and progress.

That airport authority said it has worked to extend drinking water supplies to more than 400 homes, was part of an environmental pilot program with the FAA, Michigan State University, and other PFAS experts to stabilize PFAS in soil, and has worked with EGLE to research, test, and deploy solutions.

EGLE said after two years of pushing for cleanup efforts, it hopes the lawsuit will prompt some action by the Grand Rapids airport.

Lester Graham reports for The Environment Report. He has reported on public policy, politics, and issues regarding race and gender inequity. He was previously with The Environment Report at Michigan Public from 1998-2010.
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