“The potentially health-harming chemical compound that shut down the drinking water supply in two West Michigan communities last Thursday may contaminate more than 11,300 locations statewide, according to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.

The DEQ provided the observation on the contaminants as part of a presentation to the Michigan Environmental Compliance Conference in Lansing last month, displaying a series of maps with various facilities that could have PFAS contamination: 1,487 fire stations across the Upper and Lower Peninsulas; 27 municipal airports; 519 waste-water treatment plants, and more.  All told, more than 11,300 sites were listed in the presentation maps…

The number of potential sites is high because of widespread use of PFAS for such a long time, said Scott Dean, spokesman for Gov. Rick Snyder’s Michigan PFAS Action Response Team, or MPART, a multi-departmental entity founded late last year to begin to assess and address the burgeoning discovery of the contaminants.

‘Those maps were really designed to be very, very conservative — just to identify worthwhile places to look and consider,’ he said…

Snyder earlier this month asked state Attorney General Bill Schuette to begin legal proceedings against 3M, the Minnesota manufacturer of products such as Scotchgard and firefighting foam that contained PFAS compounds. The DEQ in March announced it would inspect 1,300 municipal water systems statewide for the contaminants.

Michigan isn’t more susceptible to PFAS contamination than other locations in the U.S., Dean noted.

‘Michigan is one of the leading, if not the leading, states in attacking this issue,’ he said. ‘The reason we are leading is we are looking. We are one of only a handful of states that are aggressively addressing this emerging contaminant.’

But Snyder came under fire after public records emerged showing top DEQ officials were alerted to the potential widespread PFAS problem in Michigan by a staff member’s report in August 2012. Though that report urged multi-agency, statewide action, such action wasn’t taken on PFAS until more than five years later.

More needs to be done now, said Lisa Wozniak, executive director of the nonprofit Michigan League of Conservation Voters.

‘The fact that PFAS pollution has grown in just the last month from 32 publicly released sites to now maybe 11,000 or more highlights the dire need for more transparency from our government, and should sound the alarm bells for our leaders to take bold action immediately,’ she said.”

Read the full article by Keith Matheny