State Rep. Sue Allor of Wolverine today demanded the federal government immediately pay for costs associated with the water safety problem affecting families who live near the former Wurtsmith Air Force Base in Oscoda.
“The federal government caused this problem by using toxic chemicals at Wurtsmith, so they must take responsibility and help our families get access to clean drinking water now,” Allor said. “It’s been almost two years since the contamination was discovered, and it’s appalling the federal government has not shown any urgency in providing relief to the dozens of families who are affected.”
In December 2015, the U.S. Air Force and Michigan Department of Environmental Quality discovered perfluorinated compounds (PFCs) in drinking water wells near the former Wurtsmith Air Force Base. PFCs are chemicals in fire-fighting foams the Air Force used on the base.
According to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, possible effects in children include changes in growth, learning and behavior. Health effects in adults may include interference with the body’s hormone system, increased cholesterol, and effects on the immune system.
“As a former nurse, I feel strongly that no one should be drinking water contaminated with PFCs because so much is unknown about the long-term health effects of prolonged exposure to low levels of the contaminant,” Allor said. “The federal government must pay to help the families with tainted wells connect to a safe water source.”
Allor also called on the Air Force to provide veterans previously stationed at Wurtsmith with documentation that will allow them to receive treatment for related health issues at Veterans Affairs medical centers.
“Service members stationed at Wurtsmith, as well as their families, were likely exposed to contaminated water,” Allor said. “We owe it to them to ensure they receive proper care for any health issues they’re facing that could be connected to their time in the service.”
Allor commended state Sen. Jim Stamas for the action he has taken to address the situation, including advocating for $1 million in the state budget to provide filters and other assistance for affected homes. Sen. Stamas also sponsored a bill, passed by the Legislature in December, which holds the federal government accountable.
“The legislation Sen. Stamas took the lead on last year makes it clear that any state or federal agency, which is the Air Force in this case, should be responsible for finding a long-term solution, such as connecting people affected by the drinking water advisory to a municipal water source,” Allor said. “It’s a shame the federal government is ignoring the law and refusing to make this right.”