“OSCODA, MI — It looks like snow, but it’s not.

Residents near the former Wurtsmith Air Force Base in Oscoda Township have become increasingly concerned over the past year as toxic fluorochemicals leaching through the groundwater have generated white foam that’s washing ashore on public beaches and private waterfronts around the picturesque Van Etten Lake.

The foam contains alarmingly high levels of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances known as PFAS or PFCs and locals consider it a worrisome manifestation of a toxic groundwater problem that, until now, has been out of sight and to some degree out of mind.

“We never had this type of foam before,” said Greg Cole, who owns a lakefront cottage rental business with his wife, Vicky, and operates the Van Etten Creek dam, which allows Van Etten Lake water into the Au Sable River and Lake Huron…

A July 2017 test showed perfluorooctanesulfonic acid, or PFOS, in the foam at concentrations up to 165,000 parts per trillion (ppt), which is roughly 13,000 times Michigan’s limit of 12-ppt for PFOS in surface waters like lakes, rivers or streams.

PFOS in the surrounding lake water has tested at 254-ppt…

The contamination level has strained the state’s relationship with the Air Force, which is responsible for cleaning up the former nuclear B-52 bomber base. On Dec. 14, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality initiated a formal dispute under a joint program, saying federal efforts are not adequately curbing the plumes.

The first granular activated carbon groundwater treatment system installed on the southwest side of the base in April 2015 “is not intercepting or containing the PFAS contaminated groundwater, nor is the system effectively preventing expansion of the plume,” wrote acting DEQ remediation division director Kathleen Shirey.”

Read the full article by Garret Ellison.