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Federal, state, and local officials sitting at a roundtable meeting
Bryce Huffman / Michigan Radio

Officials from the EPA, the Michigan PFAS Action Response Team and Michigan Department of Health and Human Services met in Kalamazoo to discuss PFAS chemicals, but only a handful of selected speakers could ask questions and share their thoughts.

Many of the speakers, including officials from Ann Arbor, Parchment, and Oscoda, want the EPA and other federal agencies to move faster to solve the issue.

PFAS foam washing up on the shore of Van Ettan Lake.
Michigan Department of Environmental Quality / Flickr http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

Over the past two years, Michiganders across the state have become aware of the chemicals known as PFAS. They first made news when elevated levels were found in more than 20 private water wells in Oscoda. Now, there are 35 known contamination sites around the state.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

One of the contaminated PFAS sites first documented in Michigan was in Oscoda Township near the former Wurtsmith Air Force Base. The base has been closed for years.  Firefighting training there used a fire suppressant foam containing a PFAS chemical.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Starting Friday, a new water plant will begin treating contaminated groundwater near the old Wurtsmith Air Force Base in Oscoda.

The base was decommissioned in 1993. But man-made chemicals known as PFAS (Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) have been slowly leaching into the neighboring community’s groundwater for decades.  

The former Wurtsmith Air Force base.
Mike Fritcher / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The Oscoda-Wurtsmith Airport Authority has been awarded a $60,000 grant to investigate chemical contaminants.

The airport, which is on the site of the former Wurtsmith Air Force Base, is a known site of several chemical contaminants, including PFAs - which are linked to cancer among other maladies.

This map shows areas of concern in the Oscoda area.  PFAs has been slowly spreading for the former U.S. Air Force base for decades.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Several Michigan members of Congress are sending a letter to the Trump administration requesting stronger safeguards for dangerous chemicals in drinking water.

A recent Harvard study found six million Americans are drinking water contaminated with a group of chemicals,  per- and polyfluoroalkyl chemicals, better known as PFAS.

The chemicals have been linked to an increased risk of liver damage and pregnancy problems, among other health issues.

Van Etten Lake in Oscoda, Michigan
Kaye LaFond / Michigan Radio

A group of Oscoda residents is angry with the governor’s task force that responds to PFAS issues around the state.

The group Need Our Water – or NOW – spoke to the Michigan PFAS Action Response Team (MPART) about the ongoing groundwater contamination there.

The chemicals known as PFAS were used in firefighting foam at the Wurtsmith Air Force Base in Oscoda.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

State and federal officials say they expect to make headway this year on an underground chemical plume expanding from a former Air Force base.

The chemicals (perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) are linked to firefighter training on the former Wurtsmith Air Force Base. The firefighters used the foaming chemicals to extinguish jet fuel fires starting in the 1960s. The base closed in the 1990s. But while Wurtsmith’s been closed for decades,  the chemical plume continues spreading through the groundwater into local wells and nearby open water.

Ross and Donna Tingley
Kaye LaFond / Michigan Radio

At least 14 communities in Michigan have water contaminated with a family of chemicals known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS.

One of those sites, in West Michigan, has gotten a lot of attention recently. This month, the state abruptly announced a cleanup standard for PFAS.

But these chemicals have been a pollution problem in the state for years.

In Oscoda, some residents are wondering why remediation is taking so long.

A map of the area in Oscoda Township surrounding the now closed Wurtsmith Air Force Base is shown. The red area is the base, while the area outlined in yellow is considered the affected area.
Courtesy of District Health Department No. 2

There’s an irony in Michigan. We are surrounded by the Great Lakes and have access to vast supplies of water. However, there are plenty of examples of water issues across the state. From the Flint water crisis, to the city of Ann Arbor's problem with 1,4 dioxane in the ground water. There's also dioxin in Midland and the oil spill in the Kalamazoo River

Recently, we added the contamination near Oscoda to that list of water problems in Michigan. The source looks to be the former Wurtsmith Air Force Base, which closed in 1993.

The former Wurtsmith Air Force base.
Mike Fritcher / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Congressman Dan Kildee wants the Air Force to do more to help Oscoda residents whose groundwater is contaminated by perfluorinated chemicals, or PFCs. The Wurtsmith Air Force Base used firefighting foams containing PFCs on its property in Oscoda for decades. The base is now closed.

Kildee sent a letter to the Air Force this week, outlining a long list of concerns.

Oscoda residents talk with government officials about the PFC plumes contaminating their wells.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Residents of a northern Michigan town are getting briefed today on a threat to their drinking water.

For decades, fire crews trained at Wurtsmith Air Force Base not far from Lake Huron. But while the base closed more than 20 years ago, the chemicals used to extinguish the flames continue to seep into nearby wells and streams.

The plumes of perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs) have been migrating from the former air force base into surrounding neighborhoods and the Au Sable River. PFCs have also been detected in fish in Lake Huron.