Environmental Health Director To Determine Any County Action On PFAS
September 5, 2018
Local residents are calling on the Livingston County Board of Commissioners to take action regarding the PFAS contamination; however the county’s Director of Environmental Health feels that may be premature.
Director Matt Bolang presented an update to commissioners at their meeting Tuesday, informing them of the status of state-led testing for PFAS in local water sources. Perfluoroalkyls are manmade chemicals that are resistant to heat, oil, and water, and have been found in various water bodies throughout the state at levels that exceed what is considered safe. There are 83 sites in the county that the state has identified for testing and results for 23 of those sites have been returned thus far, all of which came back as non-detect.
At the meeting, several residents called upon the Board of Commissioners to take action to address the PFAS contamination, like appropriating federal funding for testing, examining data, and surveying local entities to determine whether they use products that contain PFAS. Alex Hansen, Democratic candidate for County Commissioner District 5, and Judith Minton, Democratic candidate for a partial trustee term on Howell Township’s Board of Trustees, were among those that spoke during the call to the public.
Minton and Hansen shared a similar thought, saying they do not blame the board for the contamination, but feel they are contributing to the perpetuation of it by not taking some sort of action. Hansen says commissioners should be held responsible for their "inaction and apathy" to the situation. Minton said the county owns the Spencer J. Hardy Airport where deicing has occurred through the years. Deicing is one activity associated with PFAS contamination. Minton says commissioners "will become co-conspirators" if they fail to act.
Commission Chair Don Parker asked Bolang if he thought the board should take action, to which Bolang responded to say he felt at this point, they’d be “chasing the unknown”. Bolang feels it’s premature to take any action until further data becomes available, and Parker believes the board should only do so at Bolang’s discretion. Parker did say that Bolang will be providing frequent updates to the board and noted that Bolang said on record at the meeting that if he feels action should be taken, he will notify commissioners immediately. Bolang expects the remainder of the test results will become available sometime in the fall.
Meanwhile, Democrats in the Michigan House are criticizing majority Republican lawmakers for "inaction" on addressing the PFAS issue. Democrats held a news conference at the Capitol on Tuesday, a day before the Legislature returns from a summer break. They want GOP-led committees to hold hearings on legislation that would lower the limit for PFAS and to learn more about an internal state report from 2012 that warned of PFAS dangers. A House spokesman says Republicans are focused on getting the state's emergency response up and running first. (DK/JK)