Read the full article by Kelly House (Bridge Michigan)

“The Michigan Department of Natural Resources should reject the Michigan Army National Guard’s proposed Camp Grayling expansion until and unless the military branch gets more serious about addressing PFAS contamination at the base.

That’s the conclusion of a strongly-worded letter sent to Guard officials in late December by a district supervisor for the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy’s Remediation and Redevelopment Division in Gaylord. 

It comes as the Guard seeks to double its footprint at Camp Grayling by leasing 162,000 acres of nearby state land. Guard officials say they need the extra space to train for modern cyber, electronic and space warfare. The DNR is reviewing the proposal.

In a Dec. 22 letter to Bonnie Packer, the acting PFAS program manager for the Army National Guard’s Cleanup and Restoration Branch, and a host of other military and state contacts, EGLE supervisor Randall Rothe wrote that DNR officials should reject the expansion of Camp Grayling based on the Guard’s ‘inability to take timely action to investigate, mitigate, and remediate significant areas of contamination at Camp Grayling.’

The letter outlines a litany of shortcomings in the Guard’s PFAS response over the past five years, from minimizing ‘known impacts’ to foot-dragging on investigating and cleaning up contaminated drinking and wastewater and refusing to extend public drinking water to areas with contaminated wells. The military’s refusal to better study PFAS impacts near the base has forced the state to step in with its own investigations at ‘an enormous expense to the state of Michigan,’ Rothe wrote.

The letter came a day after Rothe notified the Guard in a separate letter that reports it had submitted pertaining to its PFAS inspections at Camp Grayling were insufficient. 

‘Staff has spent an inordinate amount of time reviewing, researching and responding to the inadequacies of work performed/proposed,’ Rothe wrote, ‘most of which should have been included in the original submittals (by the military).’

Guard officials have touted the proposed expansion as a necessary change that would better prepare troops for modern combat while bringing new commerce to the Grayling area. They have vowed to limit training in the expansion zone to only low-impact activities, while maintaining a 1,500 foot buffer around waterways.

But many area environmentalists, outdoor enthusiasts, residents and local officials oppose the proposal, citing fears of environmental impacts, diminished property values and lower quality of life for nearby residents.

Expansion opponents have repeatedly cited concerns about the Guard’s track record on PFAS, arguing that a military branch responsible for widespread contamination of Michigan’s beloved Up North land and water shouldn’t be trusted with access to more land.” …