Read the full article by Iosco County News-Herald
“OSCODA – Need Our Water (NOW) Oscoda – a community group formed in response to the discovery of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) near the former Wurtsmith Air Force Base (WAFB) – have called on the Air Force to stop the flow of PFAS contaminants from Wurtsmith into Oscoda area surface waters by no later than 2023, and immediately begin remediation of the PFAS plumes impacting Van Etten Lake (VEL).
Congressman Dan Kildee (MI-05) has also sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of the Air Force Barbara M. Barrett, calling on the Air Force to immediately act to clean-up harmful PFAS.
‘For too long, the people of Oscoda have had to grapple with PFAS contamination from the former Wurtsmith Air Force Base while military officials dragged their feet to avoid a meaningful cleanup,’ said NOW member Tony Spaniola. ‘We’ve been through this for more than a decade and will continue to push – even harder now – for the cleanup that should have occurred years ago.’
NOW’s priority statement comes after a virtual meeting with the Wurtsmith Restoration Advisory Board (RAB) which, as reported, was held on April 15.
A press release on behalf of NOW reads that, during the meeting, Air Force officials indicated that the $13.5 million secured through federal appropriations in February would not be used for immediate cleanup of PFAS stemming from WAFB but, rather, for more investigations and studies. Many in Michigan’s congressional delegation led the effort to secure the $13.5 million for cleanup, and pushed to have that money used for cleanup to protect the health of community members.
‘I am proud to stand alongside Oscoda residents and Need Our Water as we fight for clean water for all,’ said Kildee, Chief Deputy Whip of the House Democratic Caucus.
‘Simply put, the Air Force is dragging its feet and not acting fast enough to clean up dangerous PFAS chemicals,’ he continued. ‘Oscoda residents have waited far too long for action. As the co-chair of the bipartisan PFAS Task Force in Congress, I will continue to work to hold the Air Force accountable and secure additional funding to clean up PFAS chemicals.”
According to those from NOW, it was during the RAB meeting when the Air Force determined there is not a need for immediate action, despite the fact that people in Oscoda have been directed to not drink water from private wells, not eat fish from the AuSable River, not eat venison within a five-mile radius of Clark’s Marsh and to avoid contact with foam on VEL.
‘When I brought Assistant Air Force Secretary [John] Henderson to Oscoda last year, the message was loud and clear: the Air Force needs to do a whole lot more to remediate PFAS contamination in Oscoda and surrounding areas,’ said Senator Gary Peters, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
‘Oscoda families have suffered for far too long through no fault of their own. It is vital that the cleanup efforts begin swiftly so that we can prevent the spread of PFAS in the area and reduce exposure in the community,’ Peters stressed. ‘I’m going to continue pressing the Air Force to take action.’
NOW members note that numerous studies and investigations have taken place in Oscoda over the past 10 years, documenting imminent and substantial threats to human health and the environment which mandate immediate cleanup action. It has also been established that the Air Force’s PFAS plumes violate Michigan’s surface water safety standards over miles-long stretches of VEL and the AuSable River, which flow into nearby Lake Huron.
‘For years the Air Force has argued that they could not get the funding from Congress to remediate PFAS on Wurtsmith Air Force Base, and now that Congress has appropriated $13.5 million for remediation, the Air Force is claiming they instead need it for further investigation and testing,’ said Oscoda Township Supervisor Aaron Weed…’