PFAS News Roundup: Ohio train derailment likely spilled PFAS and other chemicals across 16 states, including most Great Lakes

PFAS News Roundup: Ohio train derailment likely spilled PFAS and other chemicals across 16 states, including most Great Lakes
June 28, 2024 Lisa John Rogers, Great Lakes Now

Chemicals like perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) were likely spilled after the train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio. A new study analyzing rain and snow samples from northern Wisconsin to North Carolina and Maine found the highest levels of pH and certain compounds recorded over the last 10 years. This study proves that the various chemicals spilled did not just negatively impact local residents but spread across 540,000 square miles through 16 other states — which includes a third of the U.S. population. In part because a low pressure system moved across the Great Lakes region, pushing the burn across Michigan and into Wisconsin. According to University of Wisconsin researcher David Gay, all of the Great Lakes were likely affected except Lake Superior. 

About 250 miles from where the East Palestine derailment occurred, the U.S. Air Force has spent close to $59 million to address PFAS. According to The Dayton Daily News, in 2015, the Air Force started inspecting sites where aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF) may have been used. Of the 204 sites inspected, 191 have confirmed releases of PFAS — including the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base located outside of Dayton, Ohio.

City testing in Gosport and Lafayette, Indiana, shows PFAS levels are below the new national standard set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). However, South Bend and Mishawaka, Indiana officials have found that PFAS levels are above the new national standard. South Bend Public Works Director, Eric Horvath, said the city will have to rely on money from lawsuits that the city filed against PFAS manufacturers in order to upgrade their facilities. Mishawaka officials said they are waiting six to eight months to see what will happen since two trade groups recently filed a petition through the U.S. Court of Appeals to review the new EPA rule.

According to Joseph Dits at the South Bend Tribune, the petition was filed on June 7 by the American Water Works Association and the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies. Dits said both organizations argue that “the EPA didn’t use the ‘best available science’ to craft the rule and that the rule ‘underestimates’ the cost of complying with it.”

In Michigan, PFAS have been detected in Metro Detroit water supplies. Planet Detroit recently reported on how residents can privately order a test kit or locate testing labs if they’d like to know more. A student at Central Michigan University’s senior research has prompted the state to pause the use of some walleye ponds in Kent County after discovering a PFAS plume from a nearby landfill that was used in the 1960s. At the same time, Ann Arbor, Michigan, hosted the National PFAS Conference, and according to the Michigan Advance, this was because the state’s environmental agency estimated that at least 1.5 million Michigan residents have drinking water that’s been contaminated by “forever chemicals.”

Wisconsin Republicans continue to block the $125 million dedicated to PFAS cleanup unless polluters are given immunity. Meanwhile, residents of Marinette, Wausau, La Crosse, and Madison — where high levels of these chemicals have been discovered — are all left “in a lurch.” This is why residents of Lake Elmo are demanding bottled water while they wait for the state to test local wells, as the state has been doing for about 1,500 households in the Town of Campbell on French Island (whose wells have PFAS). 

More PFAS news, in case you missed it:

  • Hundreds show up for the public PFAS meetings in North Bay, Ontario. 
  • The EPA urges that the U.S. Army test for “forever chemicals” in the former Seneca Army Depot in the Finger Lakes region.
  • According to an investigation by The Lever, as commercial insurers cut PFAS coverage this means the expense will fall more on consumers.
  • A new study shows that wild boar have five times more PFAS levels than humans are even allowed to eat. 

Catch more news at Great Lakes Now: 

PFAS News Roundup: 3M scientist exposes 50 years of PFAS deceit just as the ‘forever chemicals’ are found in Great Lakes precipitation

PFAS News Roundup: Landmark EPA decision implements first nation-wide PFAS limit in drinking water

Featured image: PFAS foam on a beach near the decommissioned Wurtsmith Air Force Base in Iosco County, Mich. (Great Lakes Now Episode 1025)


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