PFAS News Roundup: Pennsylvania water utility sues 3M, Dupont, Michigan officials waited 8 months to warn residents

PFAS News Roundup: Pennsylvania water utility sues 3M, Dupont, Michigan officials waited 8 months to warn residents
February 28, 2021 Natasha Blakely

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.

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Timelines posted on both state and airport websites show the official investigation of PFAS pollution at Cherry Capital Airport and the adjacent U.S. Coast Guard Air Station and possible impacts on homes in the nearby neighborhood began in February 2020. But state and local officials waited until October to disclose details about the contamination risk to the residents of the approximately 20 homes suspected of daily use of well water.

Wolverine Worldwide recently submitted a feasibility study to the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy outlining a comprehensive plan to address per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances at its House Street property.28

The proposal combines multiple remediation methods while working to preserve sizable greenspace that “complements the area’s rural character,” the Rockford-based maker of footwear and apparel posted on its blog, WeAreWolverine.

A push is underway in Cascade Township to connect 256 homes, in an area where toxic chemicals have contaminated dozens of wells, with municipal water service.

The township is seeking a $5 million state grant that would help cover the estimated $6 million cost of hooking the homes up to the city of Grand Rapids water system.

New York:

The two Democratic federal lawmakers were at the City of Newburgh Fire Department, where they announced the PFAS Firefighter Protection Act. Gillibrand says the legislation would build on New York State’s efforts to restrict foams containing PFAS. It also sets deadlines for airports for prohibiting the use of PFAS firefighting foams.


The lawsuit, filed by Pennsylvania American Water, is seeking compensation for its ongoing cost to treat drinking water supplies across the state that have been tainted by toxic per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (or PFAS for short) that have been linked to a variety of birth defects, cancers and other health effects.


Quebec officials are worried about the presence of emerging contaminants called PFAS at the intake area for Sherbrooke drinking water taken from international Lake Memphremagog.


Environmental experts in Wisconsin expect to witness a new approach to addressing contamination from so-called “forever chemicals” under President Joe Biden, with one Department of Natural Resources official predicting Thursday the country would “see a different administration with respect to PFAS.”

Still, advocates warned against relying too much on federal action that they said could be slow-moving and years-in-the-making at the expense of going ahead with state-level testing and cleanup efforts.

The state’s largest business lobbying group argues the DNR is unlawfully asking businesses to test for PFAS as a hazardous substance under the state’s Remediation and Redevelopment Program and Voluntary Party Liability Exemption Program. The VPLE Program exempts participants who clean up a contaminated site from future liability if historical contamination is found.

The plan, based on recommendations from Evers’ PFAS Coordinating Council, includes allocating $20 million in general purpose revenue over the next two years to create a municipal grant program to test for PFAS at the local level, funding nearly a dozen new positions within the Department of Natural Resources dedicated to combating the chemicals and more.

Evers wants to spend $10 million a year to help communities, like Rhinelander, who have had their water contaminated by PFAS. It’s part of the state budget the governor proposed earlier this month.

Sarah Peterson, the science director for Wisconsin’s Green Fire, was happy to see the plan.

United States: 

Firefighters attempting to uncover the truth about carcinogens in their protective clothing are confronted with the same playbook chemical companies have used for decades: twisting science to deny and downplay the dangers of their products.

Catch up on more PFAS news on Great Lakes Now:

PFAS is in fish and wildlife. Researchers prowl Michigan for clues.

PFAS in the House: Are toxic “forever chemicals” a steady drip in this reporter’s home?

PFAS News Roundup: Minnesota sets new PFAS blueprint, Biden EPA dumps PFAS assessment over ‘political interference’

PFAS News Roundup: PFAS found in Indigenous household wells, Wisconsin experimental treatment fails, WDNR fish concerns

Nonstick pans often don’t note they use PFAS

PFAS Around the Great Lakes Region: Actions taken in each state or province and standards set, if any

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Featured image: (Image courtesy of 3M)


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