Read the full article by William T. Perkins (News-Review)

“PELLSTON — After three months of testing, experts stress that they’re still in the early stages of addressing water contamination issues in some areas around Pellston.

Speaking at a virtual town hall meeting Thursday, representative from the Michigan Department of Energy, Great Lakes and Environment (EGLE) noted that early action and testing was imperative in addressing the discovery of per- and polyfluoroalkyls (PFAS) in residential wells southeast of Pellston Regional Airport. But officials expect future steps will require cooperation on multiple levels and, most importantly, time.

‘Right now there’s a big slowdown in any work that can be done due to COVID-19, so that’s the first hurdle,’ said Christiaan Bon, EGLE geologist and Pellston project leader. ‘The next (step) would be getting MDOT grant funding, getting monitoring wells in place, and then doing a remedial investigation … We’re talking on the order of years.’

One form of cooperation will come in the form of a citizen task force, which EGLE is assembling. The task force is open to members of the community, but will have two primary members.

‘You’re the ones that are impacted by this contamination, and we’ve got protocols for town halls and keeping you informed, but where we can do better and differently (in a way) that helps address your need, we’d like to know,’ said Steve Sliver, director of the Michigan PFAS Action Response Team.

In the months since the investigation began, the wells that showed significantly high results were all within a perimeter on the west side of town from Washington Street to Mill Street, and east-side areas including parts of Washington, Pell, Bogardus, State and Wright streets. That area is notable for its proximity to the airport, which is considered the most likely source of the contamination. All the elevated results are also west of U.S. 31, with other less-elevated results popping up further south and southeast, suggesting a groundwater plume that fanned out as it followed the general path of the West Branch of the Maple River watershed.

Officials say the PFAS types found contaminating a well near Pellston Regional Airport match the profile of chemicals incorporated in firefighting foams that have sometimes been used at airfields. Two tests were also taken on the grounds of the airport itself, showing no indication of contamination. But, Bon indicated that’s not necessarily inconsistent with what would be seen if a plume were to move along the watershed from the airport.

A couple of other sites have been suggested as possible sources of contamination, but Bon has said the activities associated with that site don’t generally match the specific chemical profile seen in Pellston, nor do they match the geological features of the area…”