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Health, Science and Environment

Michigan’s congressional delegation calls for additional funds for Wurtsmith PFAs cleanup

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Senator Gary Peters
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Michigan representatives are calling on the federal government to dedicate more money towards chemical clean up at the former Wurtsmith Air Force Base.

A letter sent to the Air Force on Thursday called for more funds to be appropriated to PFAs cleanup at the site.

PFAs are a family of chemicals found across the state and linked to health problems including cancer. The Wurtsmith Air Force base has seen elevated levels of PFAs, in part, because of Air Force activity.

In President Trump’s 2020 Budget request only $1.5 million were appropriated to the region.

US Senator Gary Peters said he passed legislation in 2019 to put $60-million towards cleanup of PFAs at former military bases.

“Certainly I believe we’ve got a strong case that Michigan should get its fair share of that money,” he said. “We’re going to do everything we can to make that case to the Air Force and we’re going to support those efforts going forward.”

Residents of the Oscoda Community have said the Air Force is “slow walking” clean up efforts.

Peters said the Air Force isn’t moving quickly enough for him, either.

“Some work is being done but we need to accelerate that work and we hope we get a share of the money allocated,” he said. “We’re weighing in on that decision process but we won’t know what the decision will be but we expect to hear that decision in mid-February.”

The Department of Defense estimates over 400 of its current and former bases have some level of PFAs contamination.

Peters acknowledged that $60-million ultimately won’t be enough to cleanup all 400 plus sites and more funding will need to be appropriated in the future. But, he said, Oscoda residents have waited long enough.