Read the full article by Paula Gardner
“Could today’s concerns about PFAS have been alleviated if Michigan had acted sooner on a 2012 report that warned about the potential impact across the state?
Two state representatives say that’s possible as they push for the Auditor General to examine whether state officials responded appropriately to early warnings about the ‘forever chemicals’ that are present in the drinking water of at least 1.5 million residents.
Democratic state Reps. Winnie Brinks and Kevin Hertel called for the move on Wednesday, saying that staff in the MDEQ had flagged the dangers and likely path of PFAS in the state – only to have the 93-page report left unaddressed for six years.
Over that time, the contaminants were discovered in public drinking water sources and private wells, while tracking shows the chemicals moving into Michigan’s surface waters and the Great Lakes…
In it, DEQ staff warned about shockingly high PFAS levels in fish and documented pollution in the Great Lakes, rivers and wildlife, saying they ‘indicate a significant exposure to Michigan citizens and ecosystems.’
Many other PFAS sites were waiting to be discovered, it said.
Since then, the per- and polyfluorcarbon substances have escalated as a state and national concern, with a hearing underscoring public concerns and hopes for national regulatory standards.
And in 2017, Michigan officials, led by Republican Gov. Rick Snyder, set up a multi-agency PFAS response team as more contaminated sites were discovered in West Michigan. Since then, the state has been testing all public water supplies among a massive push to define contamination.
‘Much of this crisis could have been avoided if action had been taken sooner,’ Hertel said during a press briefing with Brinks…
‘Allegations that the state ignored warnings about PFAS in 2012 are false,’ said Scott Dean, DEQ spokesperson.
Dean said the staff described the report as ‘brain-storming’ and added that many of the recommendations in the report were not feasible or enforceable at the time given the lack of knowledge and regulation regarding PFAS.
The request to audit the DEQ response to the 2012 report comes from a pair of Democrats who said they’re frustrated by the politicization of PFAS in state government. Forty-two other Democrats signed the request. “