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Oscoda group wants more state action on PFAS contamination

Van Etten Lake in Oscoda, Michigan
Kaye LaFond
Michigan Radio
The state has found PFAS contimination in Van Etten Lake, near the Wurtsmith base in Oscoda.

A group of Oscoda residents is angry with the governor’s task force that responds to PFAS issues around the state.

The group Need Our Water – or NOW – spoke to the Michigan PFAS Action Response Team (MPART) about the ongoing groundwater contamination there.

The chemicals known as PFAS were used in firefighting foam at the Wurtsmith Air Force Base in Oscoda.

Residents are now dealing with contamination caused by those chemicals.

Cathy Wusterbarth, a member of NOW, says residents want the state to take a larger role in cleaning up the contamination.

“The U.S. Air Force and the state of Michigan need to fully participate in the remediation of the substances and provide a long term solution for clean drinking water,” Wusterbarth said.

She criticized MPART saying it hasn't been very good at communicating with residents.

“MPART was established to be a main resource for PFAS information, but we're still having to go to all the agencies separately to obtain current and accurate information,” she said.

The state’s Department of Environmental Quality is using a water pump to help remove PFAS contaminated water from Lake Van Etten, right near the Wurtsmith Base.

But connecting residents to the municipal water system, which hasn’t shown signs of PFAS contamination, is the next step that residents want to see happen.

Greg Cole, also with NOW, says residents also want the state to do a health study of people in Oscoda.

“I think we should have a health study done up here, see how it affected our veterans. They lived on that base, and they drank that water,” Cole said.

The head of MPART, Carol Isaacs, is scheduled to personally meet with NOW to address the PFAS issues within the next month.

Bryce Huffman was Michigan Radio’s West Michigan Reporter and host of Same Same Different. He is currently a reporter for Bridge Detroit.
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