U.S. senators address Defense Department regarding contaminated Michigan water

'Communities in Michigan are not at fault,' senators say

DETROIT – Michigan U.S. senators have raised concerns with water contaminated with per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances around defense installations across Michigan.

PFAS were used for decades in firefighting foam, and a number of active and decommissioned military installations across Michigan are uncovering high levels of PFAS contamination, including Wurtsmith, Camp Grayling, KI Sawyer, Selfridge, Alpena Combat Readiness Training Center, Escanaba Defense Fuel Supply Point, Battle Creek, Grand Ledge and Kincheloe. 

"While we appreciate the challenges of addressing emerging contaminants such as PFAS, as well as the costs the military faces in addressing environmental contamination at bases throughout the United States, we are concerned about the pace at which the Department is proceeding to address contamination across Michigan," Senators Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters wrote in a letter Thursday to U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis.

Stabenow and Peters have repeatedly pushed the Department of Defense to address contamination in drinking water. In the 2018 appropriations bill, they secured $10 million to fund a health study on the impacts of PFAS exposure, which is critically needed to establish stronger federal standards defining safety levels for PFAS exposure.

"Communities in Michigan are not at fault for the release of these harmful contaminants, and it is imperative that the Department do whatever is necessary to address the public health and environmental risks associated with exposure to these chemicals," the two said in the letter.