WASHINGTON, DC (STL.News) – The head of the Michigan PFAS Action Response Team (MPART) today testified before Congress calling on the federal government to provide additional resources to combat per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) contamination.
Speaking before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Reform Subcommittee on Environment, MPART Executive Director Steve Sliver outlined Michigan’s $50 million effort over the past two years to investigate and clean-up PFAS contamination caused by manufacturing facilities and military bases across the state and to protect the public from high levels of these contaminants in drinking water.
“Michigan is engaged in all these efforts with very little support from the federal government, Sliver said. “USEPA has not established national, enforceable standards, despite evidence that PFAS are in our drinking water and that some PFAS have been associated with adverse health effects.”
Given the slow pace of federal action on PFAS, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer this year directed Michigan officials to move forward with the development of the state’s own standards for PFAS in drinking water.
Sliver briefed the subcommittee on Michigan’s efforts to protect the public from contamination identified at more than 60 active and abandoned industrial and military sites throughout the state. The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) is currently coordinating efforts with Attorney General Dana Nessel to secure commitments from responsible parties like Wolverine World Wide in Rockford and the U.S. Air Force in Oscoda to clean up the former Wolverine tannery and Wurtsmith airbase and provide long-term drinking water solutions for residents.
“We will continue to hold responsible parties accountable for contamination they cause,” Sliver added. “Michigan urges the Federal government to move more swiftly in addressing PFAS issues. We also urge Congress to ensure proactive states, like Michigan, are provided financial assistance to ensure that our citizens are protected from these chemicals.”
PFAS compounds are a group of emerging and potentially harmful contaminants used in thousands of applications globally including firefighting foam, food packaging, and many other consumer products. These compounds also are used by industries such as tanneries, metal platers and clothing manufacturers. The discovery of PFAS contamination is a nationally growing trend across the United States.
In 2019, Gov. Whitmer strengthened MPART by reestablishing it under Executive Order 2019-3 as a permanent body within EGLE.