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Oscoda residents want more info from US Air Force on latest PFAS cleanup plan

steve carmody
Michigan Radio

Oscoda residents say they want more specifics about the U.S. Air Force’s latest plan to clean up PFAScontamination seeping from a former Air Force base.

Last week, the Air Force announced it plans to award a $13.5 million contract next month for capturing more of the industrial chemicals that have been linked to serious health problems. The Air Force says the contract will expand the capture fields already in place at the former fire training area and the Central Treatment System located on the former Wurtsmith Air Force Base. 

“The Air Force has heard the community’s concerns,” said Stephen TerMaath, Chief of the Air Force’s Base Realignment and Closure Program Management Division. “We are eager to begin taking action at these specific locations.”

But Oscoda residents disagree.

Cathy Wusterbarth is with an Oscoda citizens group pushing to clean up the former Wurtsmith Air Force Base. She says the Air Force is giving them no specifics about what the plan is.

“It’s very vague and doesn’t give us any specifics,” says Wusterbarth. “It was our work with Congress that provided the $13.5 million for Oscoda’s clean-up. And it’s our intention to make them accountable for cleaning up this in a way that will protect our children and our families.”

Wusterbarth says the Air Force needs to address growing PFAS contamination in nearby lakes and streams.

PFAS is a group of industrial chemicals linked to serious health problems, including cancer.

At the former Wurtsmith Air Force Base, the chemicals were most commonly used in firefighting foam.   For decades, the foam was used in training on the base and fighting fires around the Oscoda area. 

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Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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