Read the full article by Keith Matheny (Detroit Free Press)
“Clark’s Marsh, a natural area near the former Wurtsmith Air Force Base in Oscoda so tainted with potentially harmful nonstick chemicals that almost every living creature tested there shows excessive levels of them, will get more attention from the U.S. Air Force.
But area residents, frustrated by years of inaction and slow results as Wurtsmith’s legacy pollution has spread to affect the surrounding community, aren’t celebrating yet.
‘The Air Force has heard the community’s concerns,’ Stephen TerMaath, chief of the Air Force program responsible for environmental cleanups at its former bases, said in a release June 12.
‘We are eager to begin taking action at these specific locations.’
But what, specifically, those actions will be, and whether they will do enough to resolve ongoing contamination problems, is uncertain.
The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy hasn’t heard from the Air Force on what it plans, EGLE spokesman Scott Dean said.
‘EGLE hasn’t seen specifics, beyond what USAF outlined in their press release,’ he said. ‘Based on this, EGLE can’t make a determination on the sufficiency of these actions.’
Oscoda Township Supervisor Aaron Weed hasn’t heard anything more specific, either — and he sits on multiple boards related to base restoration and cleanup that include the Air Force.
‘Based on their track record, I’m not optimistic the problems will get resolved by this,’ he said.
PFOS and PFOA are two commonly found contaminants from a class of compounds known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS. Known as “the forever chemicals” because they don’t break down naturally, PFAS compounds were used in a host of consumer products throughout the second half of the 20th century for their nonstick and water-repellent characteristics.
PFOS and PFOA have been linked to cancer; conditions affecting the liver, thyroid and pancreas; ulcerative colitis; hormone and immune system interference; high cholesterol; pre-eclampsia in pregnant women, and negative effects on growth, learning and behavior in infants and children.
Before its closure in 1993, the Wurtsmith Air Force Base used PFAS compounds in aqueous firefighting foam for decades. The Department of Defense believes more than 600 military facilities and surrounding communities throughout the U.S. may be contaminated with the compounds…”