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Michigan, Air Force to speed up PFAS action

PFAS foam on the Huron River.
Lester Graham
Michigan Radio

Michigan officials say they’ve reached an agreement with the U.S. Air Force to speed up action to clean up PFAS contamination at the former Wurtsmith Air Force base in Oscoda.

The plan includes accelerated action to treat contaminated water and to step up investigating spots where firefighting foam may have been used or tested. Firefighting foam is a known source of PFAS chemicals.

Scott Dean is with the state Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy. He says the federal government has agreed to provide more water treatment as it accelerates its investigation into PFAS contamination at the base. The contamination is the result of runoff from fire-fighting foam. But Dean says PFAS will show up in other places because the chemicals have been widely used in consumer products.

“Common things like non-stick coatings on cookware and pizza boxes, so we’re finding these compounds showing up in more and more places, as are other states throughout the country,” Dean said.

Dean add the state is investigating another 50 known sites where PFAS chemicals were used, and that the chemicals were so widely used that officials expect many more contaminated sites will be found in Michigan and across the country.

“Everything from former tanneries, former plating industry locations, areas where firefighting foam had been used at other airbases. There are commercial airfields.”

Dean says it would helpful if the agreement helps create national PFAS cleanup standards.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.
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