Defense Department PFAS cleanup funding called 'inadequate' in congressional hearing | Michigan Radio
WUOMFM

Defense Department PFAS cleanup funding called 'inadequate' in congressional hearing

Mar 6, 2019

Credit steve carmody / Michigan Radio

A Defense Department official told a congressional committee that cleaning up PFAS contamination at current and former military bases carries a hefty price tag.

The former Wurtsmith Air Force Base in Oscoda is one of the military bases with PFAS contamination issuesPFAS are a family of chemicals that have been linked to serious health problems.   

Maureen Sullivan is the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Environment.

Before the House Environment subcommittee, Sullivan gave a rough estimate on the cost of cleaning up PFAS at dozens of military sites.

“The cleanup of PFAS and PFOA right now is going to add approximately $2 billion to our existing liability of $27 billion,” Sullivan told the committee.

Sullivan says her budget this year includes a little over a billion dollars for various cleanup projects.  

Environmental Subcommittee Chairman Rep. Harley Rouda (D-CA) doesn’t think that’s enough. 

“So in other words, woefully inadequate funding to address this issue,” Rouda said to Sullivan. 

“We have the funding to address what we can physically do in the year,” replied Sullivan.

Earlier, Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Flint) testified.    His Michigan district includes the former Wurtsmith Air Force base in Oscoda.

“Despite the Defense Department knowing about this PFAS chemical contamination at Wurtsmith since 2012, the military has failed to act quickly enough to stop contamination coming from the former Air Force base. As a result, PFAS continues to leech into the ground and surface water in Oscoda,” Kildee told the committee.

Kildee says Wurtsmith is one of 401 military sites identified as having known or potential releases of PFAS after decades of use of firefighting foam by the military.

“The Defense Department has only acted at 32 of those to clean-up contamination—less than 10 percent of all identified sites. Clearly, more needs to be done,” Kildee said.