Read the full article by Keith Matheny (Detroit Free Press)

“U.S. Air Force firefighters from the Wurtsmith Air Force Base helped their host community, Oscoda, fight at least two major fires over the years — a forest fire in 1987, and a bus garage fire in 1995. Both times, the Air Force relied on what it also used on the base — firefighting foam containing nonstick perfluoroalkyl substances: PFAS.

The compounds are now known as ‘forever chemicals’ that don’t break down in the environment and are tied to cancer and other health ailments. Decades after the fires, the groundwater in the areas where Wurtsmith fire crews provided mutual aid in Oscoda Township remains contaminated with high levels of PFAS.

But Air Force officials say that’s the community’s responsibility, not theirs.

They reiterated that position again Friday, while providing updates on their plans to remediate PFAS contamination in Clark’s Marsh. That contamination, they said, came from historic activity on the former base, which was shut down in 1993.

Firefighting assistance off base they see differently.

‘We have those mutual agreements with the community,’ said Steve TerMaath, chief of the Air Force Civil Engineer Center’s program related to base realignments and closures…”