Agencies Need to Accelerate Response to Water Contamination, Witnesses Tell Senate Panel

Agencies Need to Accelerate Response to Water Contamination, Witnesses Tell Senate Panel

Community activists and lawmakers on Capitol Hill Wednesday pressed federal officials to act more quickly to respond to widespread contamination of local drinking water supplies caused by per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). Arnie Leriche, community co-chair of the Wurtsmith Restoration Advisory Board, expressed the frustration of fellow Oscoda, Mich., residents over contamination in local waterways stemming from the use of firefighting foam at the former Wurtsmith AFB, one of five active or former military installations in Michigan addressing PFAS contamination. “I am glad that the EPA and [DOD] are beginning to acknowledge this problem and think about steps to fix it. But the people of Oscoda don’t have any more time for delay or missteps. We need action now,” Leriche said in his written testimony.

Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.), ranking member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs’ Subcommittee on Federal Spending Oversight and Emergency Management, requested the hearing because of the number of military and non-military sites in Michigan, 35, with PFAS contamination. Following the hearing Peters stressed the need for congressional action to ensure EPA carries out several determinations outlined at the hearing, including whether to set a regulatory standard for the chemicals and whether to designate them as “hazardous substances” under the under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act.

“You heard we were pressing today as to what is the timeline, and do you have enough information to make some of these determinations?” Peters said, reported the Detroit News.

To read the witnesses’ written testimony or to view a webcast of the hearing, visit the committee website.

 

MLive photo by Jake May

Dan Cohen
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