KI Sawyer on list of nationwide ‘Filthy Fifty Act’ priority PFAS clean-up sites

The Clean Water for Military Families Act and the Filthy Fifty Act direct the Department of Defense to identify and clean up PFAS at U.S. military installations with some of the highest levels of PFAS contamination in the country.
PFAS testing at airports.
PFAS testing at airports.(WLUC)
Updated: Jun. 9, 2021 at 1:55 PM EDT
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WASHINGTON (WLUC) - New legislation has been introduced in the U.S. Senate to help address PFAS contamination clean-up nationwide.

U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Gary Peters (D-MI) introduced two new bills to address per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, commonly known as PFAS, at military bases across the country.

The Clean Water for Military Families Act and the Filthy Fifty Act direct the Department of Defense to identify and clean up per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances at U.S. military installations with some of the highest levels of PFAS contamination in the country.

The Filthy Fifty Act will set testing and cleanup deadlines for PFAS remediation at the most contaminated DOD sites in the country and establishes a list of priority installations with 50 bases in the U.S. that have among the highest detections of PFAS.

Michigan’s two most contaminated bases, the decommissioned Wurtsmith Air Force Base in Iosco County and KI Sawyer Base in Marquette County, are included in the list of priority installations.

The Clean Water for Military Families Act would require the Department of Defense to conduct investigations and remediate PFAS contamination at and surrounding DOD installations in the U.S. and state-owned National Guard facilities. This would include installations and facilities such as Selfridge Air National Guard Base, Camp Grayling and Battle Creek Air National Guard Base.

Specifically, the bill authorizes a one-time, $10 billion investment for the investigations and clean-up to ensure military families have access to clean, pollutant-free drinking water.

“PFAS contamination is a threat to public health, and Michigan families have waited long enough for help. These bills will bring faster relief by investing in clean-up, setting deadlines and requiring the Department of Defense to remediate contamination,” said Senator Stabenow.

“We have a solemn obligation to care for our servicemembers, their families and their surrounding communities - and that means ensuring that the Department of Defense accelerates testing and cleanup efforts at military installations that have been contaminated by toxic PFAS chemicals,” Senator Peters said. “These bills would provide much-needed deadlines and important resources for remediating PFAS contamination at military facilities in our state. We owe it to our Michigan veterans and our communities to get this done.”

Contamination from PFAS chemicals, which have been used in firefighting foam and other manufacturing products, is a serious issue affecting drinking water for millions of Americans. The military’s heavy use of a firefighting foam has resulted in widespread PFAS contamination around military sites.

A recent study showed that up to 110 million Americans might be drinking PFAS-contaminated water and that Michigan has the most PFAS-contaminated sites in the country. Exposure to PFAS chemicals has been linked to cancer and other diseases.

In past defense budget bills, Senators Peters and Stabenow passed legislation to clean up contaminated sites and invest millions to study the health impacts of PFAS exposure. The bill also protects Michigan farmers by requiring the Defense Department to alert them if their irrigation water is contaminated.

Senators Stabenow and Peters continue to urge the Air Force to clean up contaminated sites in Michigan and work to keep Michigan families safe. In the past, PFAS clean-up contamination is also something the U.S. Congressman Jack Bergman (R-MI) also worked towards.

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