PFAS, short for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, are a group of widespread man-made chemicals that don’t break down in the environment or the human body and have been flagged as a major contaminant in sources of water across the country.
Keep up with PFAS-related developments in the Great Lakes area.
In this edition: Sen. Gary Peters calls for expedited cleanup at Wurtsmith Air Force Base in Oscoda, Buick City resumes Flint River sewer reroute, PFAS found in Twin cities’ Battle Creek, PFAS found around Cohoes incinerator, Sen. Charles Schumer seeks federal probe of Norlite Cohoes incinerator, high levels of PFAS found around Madison airport, PFAS actions added to Senate bills, and DuPont looks for settlement while Chemours pursues appeal.
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U.S. Senator Gary Peters is calling on the Air Force expedite the cleanup of PFAS at the former Wurtsmith Air Force Base in Oscoda.
Peters wrote a letter to Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Installations, Environment and Energy John Henderson stating his concern that the Air Force does not yet intend to spend the $13.5 million in funding he secured on additional tangible cleanup projects.
The project will replace and reroute more than 3,600 feet of underground storm sewer lines in an effort to stop PFAS contamination from continuing to spill into the Flint River.
The work was paused on March 24 in compliance with Gov. Whitmer’s Stay Home, Stay Safe order and in consultation with the Michigan Department of Great Lakes, Environment and Energy.
- More PFAS foam found in Twin Cities’ Battle Creek – Minnesota Public Radio
The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency is advising people to keep away from foam in an east Twin Cities metro-area creek, after samples of it have again tested positive for elevated levels of the chemicals known as PFAS.
The MPCA said minor and infrequent contact with the foam in Battle Creek does not pose a health risk, and drinking water for homes along the creek, which runs through St. Paul and Maplewood, is not affected.
- Toxic PFAS fallout found near incinerator in upstate New York – The Intercept
The facility is run by Norlite, whose parent company Tradebe contracted with the Department of Defense to burn the foam known as AFFF, as The Intercept reported in January 2019.
The analysis of three soil and four water samples collected near the Norlite incinerator in Cohoes, New York, which appears to be the first environmental testing done near an AFFF incineration site, revealed the presence of 10 PFAS compounds that have been associated with the foam.
- Incinerators may spread, not break down PFAS – Chemical and Engineering News
Soil and surface water near an incinerator in Cohoes, New York, that has burned firefighting foam containing PFAS are tainted with these persistent substances, preliminary data released April 27 by Bennington College show.
- Schumer seeks federal probe of PFAS burning in Cohoes – The Times Union
U.S. Sen. Charles E. Schumer is urging two federal agencies to investigate the impact of Norlite’s incineration of firefighting foam with potentially hazardous PFAS compounds on a nearby public housing complex and the surrounding area.
- New report shows high levels of PFAS in Madison airport runoff – Wisconsin State Journal
New test results show water draining from the Madison airport contains harmful PFAS compounds at thousands of times the concentrations considered safe by other states.
Water from 12 of the 23 outfalls had levels of one such compound, PFOS, which tends to accumulate in fish, that exceeded the 12 parts per trillion limit set by Michigan, one of the few states to adopt PFAS standards for surface water.
One site had a PFOS concentration of 17,500 parts per trillion; another had a concentration of 2,220 ppt.
- Senate Panel Moves Major Water Bills, Adding PFAS Actions – Bloomberg Law
The water packages, (S. 3591) and (S. 3590), developed by the top Republican and Democrat on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, will now go to the full Senate. It’s unclear how soon the chamber will consider the legislation while it focuses on the coronavirus pandemic.
- DuPont CEO Foresees Settlements in Liability Cases Over PFAS – Bloomberg Law
E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co., also known as DuPont, was the target of about 3,500 personal injury and other liability claims arising from PFAS-contaminated drinking water near its Parkersburg, W.Va., facility. Many of the cases were settled in 2017, leaving a few dozen open in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio.
- Chemours Sticks to Appeal in PFAS Liability Case Against DuPont – Bloomberg Law
Chemours claimed its former parent, E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co., saddled the company with millions of dollars in liabilities for cleaning up per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, in the environment. A judge sent the companies to arbitration in March to resolve their conflict, but Chemours is appealing the opinion.
Catch up with other PFAS headlines and news from Great Lakes Now:
PFAS News Roundup: Wurtsmith PFAS remediation funds going to research not cleanup, Wisconsin DNR continues testing
MPART: Michigan’s efforts to root out and deal with PFAS contamination
Coping with PFAS: How have families been dealing with PFAS contamination in their communities
PFAS Around the Great Lakes Region: Actions taken in each state or province and standards set, if any
Featured image: Sen. Gary Peters. (Image from Great Lakes Now “The Forever Chemicals” documentary.)