Coalition debuts agenda to combat PFAS contamination across Michigan


FILE – In this June 7, 2018, file photo, PFAS, or perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, foam gathers at the the Van Etten Creek dam in Oscoda Township, Mich., near Wurtsmith Air Force Base. The U.S. Department of Defense has dragged its feet on protecting service personnel from “forever chemicals” at military installations and isn’t doing enough to track health effects from exposure to the toxic compounds, according to an internal audit. Officials have taken steps to find and clean groundwater contaminated with firefighting foam containing PFAS the department’s inspector general found. But its recently released report said the Pentagon has fallen short on dealing with other sources of the chemicals as its rules require. (Jake May/The Flint Journal via AP, File)

LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — The PFAS Action Agenda was unveiled today, as lawmakers across the state continue to discuss how to spend more than $11 billion in state revenue and federal stimulus funds.

The Agenda was authored by the Great Lakes PFAS Action Network, which consists of Michiganders who have been impacted by PFAS. The agenda includes various policy recommendations for the Michigan legislature and Gov. Whitmer to consider.

PFAS impacts people, communities, waterways and wildlife across our entire state. It’s a growing crisis that requires forward-thinking action, and there are concrete steps that state policy makers can take now in order to address it. As leaders on the front lines of this crisis, we live and experience it like no one else.  We know that it will continue to grow and that we need to get out in front of it with urgency and resolve.  We came to Lansing today to send that message.”

Tony Spaniola, co-chair of the Great Lakes PFAS Action Network

We are calling for policy solutions to prevent future PFAS contamination, and that starts with stopping PFAS at the source. With more than 7,000 different PFAS chemicals only a small fraction are currently regulated in states across the Great Lakes region. We must stop using PFAS for firefighting foams, stop state agencies from procuring PFAS-containing products and regulate PFAS chemicals as a class.”

Sandy Wynn-Stelt, co-chair of the Great Lakes PFAS Action Network

According to the coalition, PFAS chemicals have been detected in the drinking water of nearly 2 million Michiganders and in every one of the Great Lakes. 

We know we have more than 11,000 potential PFAS sites in Michigan, but the full extent of the PFAS crisis in the Great Lakes region is even broader,” said Robb Kerr, member of the Great Lakes PFAS Action Network from Ann Arbor. “Understanding our full exposure to PFAS is absolutely essential to addressing this PFAS crisis in our state. We look forward to working with lawmakers and the administration on these solutions.”

Robb Kerr, member of the Great Lakes PFAS Action Network

The group wants to address PFAS chemicals in bio-solid-based fertilizers, which are organic substances taken from a sewage treatment process and used as fertilizer.

Under the 1976 toxic substance control act, EPA could require testing for chemicals when providing evidence of potential harm. These types of laws are reactive and allow companies to essentially regulate themselves. We need proactive measures to ensure containment to avoid a reaction. We must also do a better job of holding PFAS polluters accountable. This starts with those responsible for contamination to restore the environment in which they’ve polluted and avoid carrying the burden onto the residents.”

Salah AliGreat Lakes PFAS Action Network member

Lack of accountability is another issue that the coalition wants to be addressed, with calls for better systems in place to ensure that polluters pay for the cleanup.

To read the agenda in its entirety, click here.

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