LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — The Gerald R. Ford International Airport Authority, which manages the Grand Rapids airport, is being accused of contaminating drinking water with PFAS, or “forever chemicals.”
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel filed the lawsuit against the airport board for overseeing the release of chemicals into the groundwater supply, among other issues, her office announced Monday.
The lawsuit, filed in the Kent County 17th Judicial Circuit Court, comes after “repeated warnings and demands for action from the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy.”
The lawsuit claims the Airport Authority is liable for previous and known releases of PFAS containing firefighting material, known as aqueous film-forming foams.
“Forever chemicals” have been discovered in residential drinking water wells in the nearby Cascade Charter Township, and also in streams and other groundwater downstream of the airport, according to the AG.
The full extent of the PFAS emanation from the airport is unknown.
Per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances, known as PFAS, are widely used and long-lasting chemicals, components of which break down very slowly over time, according to the EPA.
PFAS are very persistent in the environment, and many PFAS are found in the blood of people and animals across the globe, and are present at low levels in food products and in the environment, the EPA says. There are thousands of kinds of PFAS chemicals.
According to Phil Roos, Director of the Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy, the department believes the Gerald Ford International Airport Authority used PFAS-containing foam for decades.
“The Airport Authority has had ample opportunity, over several years now, to step up and do the right thing,” Nessel said. “But as they’ve shown a refusal to accept responsibility for their actions or meaningfully attempt to clean up the messes they have made, we must compel them to act responsibly.”