Read the full article by Garret Ellison (MLive)
“OSCODA, MI — The U.S. Air Force drew pointed criticism from activists and former state regulators during a meeting this week in which cleanup managers defended their intention to ignore new Michigan environmental rules by arguing they don’t apply to plans for expanding a groundwater treatment system near a highly polluted wetland.
Air Force attorneys said Wednesday that new state rules severely limiting how much toxic PFAS ‘forever chemicals’ a treatment system can discharge back into the environment don’t apply to their plans to expand an existing system.
That position has angered locals who were already upset about transparency issues with the Air Force’s proposal for expanding pollution capture near Clark’s Marsh, a contaminated wetland in the Huron-Manistee National Forest adjacent to the former Wurtsmith Air Force Base in Oscoda.
Local officials and members of Need Our Water (NOW), a local activist group, say they were blindsided by an Air Force’s announcement about plans for the new cleanup; only learning the draft plan had been released after being contacted by journalists.
The Air Force uploaded its Clark’s Marsh plan to an obscure military administrative public record site on March 1 but did not disclose the plan’s existence until March 16, when it issued a press release announcing a 30-day public comment window that ends April 17.
Activists in the Wednesday, March 24 meeting want the Air Force to increase public involvement in cleanup planning and design the expansion to comply with state law, arguing it’ll have to be redone to meet that standard in the future anyhow.
‘The process by which this proposal has been developed has been conducted in secret and has not involved a single soul from Oscoda,’ said Tony Spaniola, a metro Detroit attorney and PFAS activist who owns a home on Van Etten Lake.
‘I keep hearing that because this is an interim remedial action that somehow the Air Force can do something less than what should be done in the end,’ Spaniola continued. ‘That is a poor use and poor management of taxpayer dollars.’
‘Do it right and do it right now.’
Expansion of groundwater treatment near Clark’s Marsh is the latest development in a long-running contamination saga in Oscoda, where PFAS chemicals are widespread on and around the former Wurtsmith base due to their use in chemical-based AFFF firefighting foam for decades.
The Air Force is expanding a granular activated carbon (GAC) treatment system built in 2015 at the former fire training area No. 2, which is immediately north of the Au Sable River marsh where some of the most highly PFAS contaminated fish, deer and other wildlife in Michigan are found…”