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Health, Science and Environment

Air Force leadership to visit Oscoda to learn about PFAs cleanup

wurtsmith_air_force_base-10april1999__1_.jpg
United States Geological Survey
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Wurtsmith Air Force Base

Air Force officials announced on Wednesday that they plan to visit the former Wurtsmith Air Force base in Oscoda next week to learn about ongoing cleanup of chemical contamination.

The former Air Force base is one of many sites across Michigan known to be contaminated with perfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAs. PFAs have been linked to cancer and other health problems in humans.

The PFAs contamination at Wurtsmith was caused, at least in part, by Air Force operations.

The Air Force has been criticized by both state officials and congressional representatives for not making cleanup at the base a priority.

John Nordeen is the Oscoda Township Clerk. He said he’s cautiously optimistic about the visit.

“I’m overall encouraged by the fact that the Air Force’s higher ranking officials are taking notice and expending enough energy and time and resources to make a visit to Oscoda Township to see what we have going on.”

Nordeen said the Air Force has taken quick action when PFAs contamination was over federal health advisory limits. But, he said, the Air Force has declined to address contamination below those standards.

“I wish the Air Force was a little bit more proactive and doing things on their own to push that limit but I also understand their not the ones who set the limit their just trying to play by the ground rules that they are given.”

Nordeen said he’d like to see the Air Force get behind efforts to lower the federal threshold for clean up.

U.S. Congressman Dan Kildee said of the announcement that the Air Force has known for years about the contamination and it is long past time for the department to prioritize clean up.