Read the full article by Paula Gardner

“Michigan residents who waited all summer for the Environmental Protection Agency to set up a hearing about PFAS contamination in the state will finally get a chance to face the federal government.

But only a select few will get to speak.

Invitations went out late Tuesday afternoon to 18 people as the EPA organizes the event promised in late September during a U.S. Senate subcommittee hearing, according to a copy of the email.

But contrary to the other events held in five U.S. cities from June through early September, this meeting’s agenda does not include public comment about the contamination by the ‘forever chemicals’ linked to cancer that are contaminating drinking water, along with lakes, rivers and fish across the state.

And it comes with just days’ notice.

‘If they were really interested in our input, some time would have been given to organize that participation,’ said Cathy Wusterbarth, leader of Need Our Water in Oscoda.

‘This seems like a calculated strategy to reduce input and participation.’

The event will take place from 1-3 p.m. Friday at the Kalamazoo County Expo Center, 2900 Lake St.. It will be led by three officials: Cathy Stepp, regional administrator for the EPA; Peter Grevatt, director of the EPA’s Office of Ground Water and Drinking Water; and Carol Isaacs, director of Michigan’s PFAS Action Response Team.

Grevatt announced the plan to travel to Michigan during the Senate hearing, something that caught many in the state by surprise. Earlier plans to bring the EPA to Michigan during its community engagement tours – during a time when the agency weighs setting enforceable standards for PFAS – fell apart, apparently amid disagreements over location and meeting format between the state and federal government…

The panelists leading the discussion will offer remarks on three areas: Identifying PFAS; Communicating PFAS; and Identifying Solutions to PFAS.

According to the agenda, roundtable participants will discuss the panelists’ remarks after each session. The invitation list includes officials from Parchment, Cooper Township and Kalamazoo County, where the city of Parchment’s water system was shut down in Julywithin hours of the state learning about high levels of PFAS reaching residents.

Other organizations or community groups invited include the American Water Works Association Michigan Section, Michigan Manufacturers Association, Anglers of the Au Sable, Michigan Environmental Council, Demand Action,  Lake Margrethe Property Owners Association and Concerned Citizens for Responsible Remediation (CCRR)…

Jen Carney, formerly of Demand Action in West Michigan, also is frustrated by the last-minute scheduling. Most people work during the day, she said, so an evening event would allow more participation.

Carney lives near the former Wolverine World Wide dump on House Street in northern Kent County, where she learned she was among many people drinking highly contaminated water. She won’t be able to attend to tell her story.

‘You’re put in this situation where you have no control over anything that’s happening to you,’ she said. ‘It’s just another thing. Why did they have to do it at this inconvenient time?’ ”