Gov. Whitmer holds U.S. Air Force accountable for cleaning up toxic PFAS contamination

Gov. Whitmer holds U.S. Air Force accountable for cleaning up toxic PFAS contamination

LANSING – The Michigan League of Conservation Voters and National Wildlife Federation today applaud the decision by Gov. Whitmer to hold the U.S. Air Force accountable by invoking a new tool that will ensure the Air Force uses state standards when cleaning up PFAS contamination, rather than weaker advisory limits set by the EPA. 

On Tuesday, March 16, the U.S. Air Force released the first of its long awaited cleanup plans for contamination stemming from the Wurtsmith Air Force Base. 

“People in Oscoda have been denied a true plan for cleaning up toxic PFAS in their community for far too long, with years of delays and foot dragging by the U.S. Air Force who’s responsible for the contamination,” said Lisa Wozniak, executive director of the Michigan League of Conservation Voters. “Governor Whitmer’s calls for the Air Force to follow strong state standards in its cleanup of PFAS contamination will help protect the health of the Oscoda community and charts a path forward for communities across Michigan grappling with contamination caused by the military.” 

“The communities around Oscoda that have been knowingly exposed to toxic PFAS from the former Wurtsmith Air Force Base for decades deserve assurance that clean-up will meet the highest standards and the Governor invoking this authority is a critical step in that process.” said Mike Shriberg, Great Lakes Regional Executive Director of the National Wildlife Federation. “This added layer of accountability for the Air Force is a critical step in helping to restore trust and transparency in the clean-up process and ensure that people, wildlife, our land and water are the priority.”

Gov. Whitmer has the authority to hold the Air Force accountable for cleaning up PFAS to Michigan’s state standards through Section 332 of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2020 signed into law last year. By invoking the NDAA, it paves the way for a cooperative agreement that utilizes state PFAS standards  in the clean up activities at all Department of Defense contaminated sites across Michigan. This action will also put in place mandatory reporting requirements to Congress by the Department of Defense within one year of Gov. Whitmer invoking the NDAA, adding an additional layer of accountability over the Air Force for cleanup. 

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