Read the full article by Beth LeBlanc

“State officials and the Department of Defense remain deadlocked over whether the Air Force should accept more responsibility for cleaning up and paying for the chemical contamination in Oscoda after nearly a year in dispute resolution.

The ongoing disagreement between the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and federal officials was highlighted during last Friday’s round table discussion with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in Kalamazoo, where the Department of Defense was notably absent.

The head of Snyder’s PFAS task force, Carol Isaacs, said there was ‘discord’ with the department. A July letter from Gov. Rick Snyder to Secretary of Defense James Mattis echoed the sentiment.

‘…the DOD refuses to acknowledge its responsibility for the significant off-site contamination,’ Snyder wrote. ‘This, in turn results in needless cost for the State of Michigan to address the source for contamination and an unwarranted delay in remediation efforts.’

The dispute is over ‘the scope and extent’ of the PFAS contamination that can be attributed to Air Force activities at the former Wurtsmith Air Force Base, where personnel used PFAS-containing firefighting foam for training, said Ari Adler, a spokesman for Snyder.

The DEQ is finishing testing of groundwater plumes and additional samples to provide the information needed to link the contaminated groundwater to the air force base, Adler said…

Michigan has five former or active military sites affected by PFAS contamination: the Alpena Combat Readiness Training Center, the former Escanaba Defense Fuel Support Points, Camp Grayling, the former K.I. Sawyer Air Force Base near Marquette, and the former Wurtsmith Air Force Base. Adler noted that though commitments for full remediation at Wurtsmith are slow in coming, Army bases around Michigan where contamination has been identified have been more cooperative.

‘The Air Force refuses to treat’ areas where PFAS-containing foam migrated offsite, creating secondary sources of the chemical, said Oscoda Township Supervisor Aaron Weed said. The Air Force also used the foam to help put out forest fires in the area but refuses to take responsibility for those sites, Weed said.

The township’s fire departments never used the firefighting foam, he said.

The Air Force has installed two granular activated carbon filtration units in the area, Weed said, but ‘the plume is so huge that what that system is filtering is just a tiny bit of that contamination.’

‘What’s leaching out of these plumes is going directly into the surface waters and then in 24 hours it’s in Lake Huron,’ said Weed, who also faulted the state for failing to take a tougher regulatory stance in years past.

The U.S. Air Force did not respond to requests for comment. But in September, the Defense Department’s Maureen Sullivan testified before a U.S. House subcommittee that the department had identified 401 active and former bases where a PFOS or PFOA release had occurred.”