U.S. Air Force official says four more years of study needed on Wurtsmith PFAS contamination | Michigan Radio
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U.S. Air Force official says four more years of study needed on Wurtsmith PFAS contamination

Apr 24, 2019

Resident Chris Coulon asks U.S. Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI) and Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Air Force John Henderson about the PFAS cleanup at the former Wurtsmith AFB during a town hall meeting in Oscoda.
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A top Pentagon official told an audience in Oscoda on Wednesday that another four years of study are needed on the PFAS contamination seeping from the former Wurtsmith Air Force Base.

The industrial chemicals present a threat to human health. They've been used in firefighting foam on U.S. military bases.

John Henderson is an Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Air Force. He says the Pentagon would like to move faster on cleanup efforts, but it has to be careful.

“We continue to study aggressively, as quickly as we can, what the extent of the problem is,” says Henderson. "So when we do get a solution, it’s the right solution. We get it right the first time.”

U.S. Senator Gary Peters (D-MI) says he would like to see the Air Force speed up its response to the PFAS problem.

“I don’t think four more years is acceptable to anyone,” Peters told reporters after the town hall meeting. “But I think there is also a recognition that you have to do the job right.”

The Air Force has been studying the contamination problem around the former Wurtsmith base for several years. It has started some remediation efforts, including installing a new water plant to treat groundwater contaminated with PFAS.

Air Force officials remain at odds with state regulators on aspects of the cleanup. 

Meanwhile, many nearby residents are concerned the contamination will continue to spread as the Air Force studies the problem.