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Senator Peters Applauds Department of Defense Expansion of PFAS Cleanup Strategies Developed in Northern Michigan to Selfridge Air National Guard Base and Camp Grayling

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Gary Peters (MI) released the following statement after the Department of Defense (DoD) announced plans to expand use of PFAS mitigation strategies pioneered in Northern Michigan at more than 30 DoD installations and National Guard facilities nationwide, including Selfridge Air National Guard Base and Camp Grayling. This follows a recent Air Force decision to utilize these locally developed methods to stem the flow of PFAS surrounding the former Wurtsmith Air Force Base in Oscoda.

“Strategies developed by experts in the Oscoda community have made significant progress to stop PFAS from entering surface waters, and I’m thrilled the Department of Defense is expanding their use of these proven remedies at Selfridge Air National Guard Base and Camp Grayling,” said Senator Peters. “This is a positive step forward that will provide additional protection against PFAS in the Great Lakes region and help clean up highly contaminated areas across the country. I’ve been proud to advocate for additional resources to stop the spread of PFAS and will continue to push for expedited cleanup efforts in Michigan.”

Peters, who is a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and a former Lt. Commander in the U.S. Navy Reservehas worked with communities across Michigan for years on PFAS remediation efforts. Last year, Peters applauded steps taken by the Air Force to prevent further spread of PFAS-contaminated water into local water systems by installing groundwater treatment facilities at Wurtsmith. During a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing last May, Peters pressed Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall to commit to taking immediate remedial actions without any further delays. In 2022, Peters convened a field hearing in East Lansing with officials from the Department of Defense (DoD), Health and Human Services (HHS), and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to examine federal efforts and coordination with state and local governments to clean up and prevent contamination from PFAS, and to examine the impact exposure to these toxic chemicals has had on servicemembers, first responders, families, and other Michiganders. In 2019, Peters hosted the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force at Wurtsmith to urge them to do more to mitigate PFAS contamination. Peters helped secure $13.5 million for PFAS remediation efforts there, and he has also called on the Air Force to take more significant steps to address PFAS contamination near Wurtsmith and to meet the State of Michigan’s standards to address PFAS contamination. He has also taken steps to hold the DoD accountable for their failure to meet key PFAS reporting deadlines.

Peters has also led and championed many efforts to address toxic PFAS chemicals. In September 2018, Peters helped convene the first-ever hearing on PFAS contamination in the Senate, which assessed the federal government’s response to PFAS contamination and remediation efforts. He then convened a field summit in Grand Rapids in November 2018 to shine a light on how local, state and federal governments are coordinating responses to address PFAS contamination. Peters also convened a hearing in 2021 as Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee to examine how servicemembers, their families, and communities across the country have been harmed by exposure to toxic PFAS substances connected to military sites. He also previously supported and led provisions in the national defense bill to prohibit DoD from purchasing or using firefighting foams containing PFAS chemicals for military training exercises, and enhanced state cooperation DoD to clean-up PFAS contamination stemming from military-related activities.

Peters introduced and advanced bipartisan legislation to reduce the spread of PFAS chemicals at commercial airports. The Preventing PFAS Runoff at Airports Act, which was signed into law in 2022, is working to deploy more existing Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) funding for commercial airports to purchase devices to test their firefighting equipment without discharging toxic PFAS chemicals. In 2022, Peters’ bill to help protect firefighters and emergency responders from PFAS exposure in the line of duty was also signed into law.