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State official voices opposition on Grayling expansion, citing poor PFAS response

Michigan National Guard

The Michigan National Guard’s proposal to double the size of Camp Grayling has seen resistance from local residents and conservation groups - but now a PFAS regulator from the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy has thrown his hat in the ring with his letter to military and state contacts.

The letter calls on officials to reject the expansion based on the Guard’s “inability to take timely action” to investigate and clean up PFAS contamination at the camp.

Expansion opponents have also consistently referenced PFAS as an example of how the Guard has not proven itself to be a “good neighbor.”

David Waymire is with the Anglers of the Au Sable, a group opposed to the expansion. In a December meeting prior to the letter being sent out, he said the Guard’s lack of PFAS action has been a show of bad faith for residents.

“They have not done enough to clean up the damage that they've caused," Waymire said. "It's kind of a promises-made, promises-broken situation. if they had already leaned in hard to deal with the PFAS issue here, I think people might feel a little better about them being good neighbors.”

The letter’s author, Randy Roethe, could not be reached for comment. EGLE spokesperson Hugh McDiarmid Jr. said in an email the agency does have concerns about the Guard’s response to contamination, but EGLE will not make a formal recommendation on the expansion (see full statement below).

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is expected to make a decision on the proposal sometime this year.

EGLE's Full Statement:
"The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) has significant concerns about the Army National Guard’s response to PFAS contamination at the Camp Grayling facility, as expressed by EGLE’s Gaylord District office in a December compliance communication to the Guard.

While the compliance letter references the district office’s opposition to the proposed Camp Grayling expansion, Michigan EGLE has no regulatory authority over the proposed expansion and will not make a formal agency recommendation on that matter. EGLE will continue to pursue PFAS cleanup that protects the environment and public health at the Grayling site."

Teresa Homsi is an environmental reporter and Report for America Corps Member based in northern Michigan for WCMU. She covers rural environmental issues, focused on contamination, conservation, and climate change.