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VIDEO: Peters Advocates for Selfridge Air National Guard Base and PFAS Contamination Cleanup at Former Wurtsmith Air Force Base During Hearing with Air Force Secretary

WASHINGTON, DC – During a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing with Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall, U.S. Senator Gary Peters (MI) advocated for the long-term success of Selfridge Air National Guard Base and for the Department of Defense (DoD) to clean up perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) contamination at the former Wurtsmith Air Force Base in Oscoda.

The hearing comes after Peters convened a meeting last week with Secretary Kendall and members of the Michigan congressional delegation to continue their bipartisan, bicameral push for a new fighter mission at Selfridge. It also builds on Peters’ longstanding efforts to address PFAS contamination and hold the DoD accountable to clean up these dangerous chemicals across Michigan – including at Wurtsmith.

“Selfridge plays a key role in our national defense and I’ll continue to hold the Air Force accountable to the long-term commitments they made to our state,” said Senator Peters, a former Lt. Commander in the U.S. Navy Reserve and member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. “As the Air Force works to reorient their fleet for future military operations, I’ll keep fighting to deliver federal investments at Selfridge – including resources for a new fighter mission. While we continue to advance Michigan’s strong defense footprint, I’ll also keep working to protect the health and safety of Michiganders and ensure the Defense Department is held accountable for PFAS cleanup efforts, including at Wurtsmith in Oscoda.”


To watch Peters’ questioning at the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Selfridge, click here, and PFAS, click here.

Peters recently helped lead a bipartisan, bicameral call with the Michigan congressional delegation for a new fighter mission at Selfridge and introduced companion resolutions to highlight the contributions of Selfridge. Peters previously worked with U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow to secure significant commitments from the Department of Defense, including a pledge that Selfridge will continue to play a “critical and ongoing role for our national security.”

For more than 13 years, the Air Force has been investigating PFAS contamination at Wurtsmith. However, the Air Force has yet to implement a cohesive clean-up plan despite awarding a contract for remediation efforts. As a result, Oscoda residents have sought urgent actions to stop the flow of PFAS-contaminated groundwater into public waterways. During Tuesday’s hearing, Peters pressed Secretary Kendall to commit to taking remedial actions now – without any further delays. Peters has long pressed the Air Force and Department of Defense to act swiftly. 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, meet the State of Michigan’s standards to address PFAS contamination, and held the DoD accountable for their failure to meet key PFAS reporting deadlines.

In addition, Peters has 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 additionally 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. During the hearing, he raised the need to hold the DoD accountable for their failure to act. 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 additionally introduced and advanced bipartisan legislation to reduce the spread of PFAS chemicals at commercial airports. The Preventing PFAS Runoff at Airports Act – which will deploy more existing Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) funding for commercial airports to purchase devices necessary to test their firefighting equipment without discharging toxic PFAS chemicals – was signed into law last year. In 2022, Peters’ bill to help protect firefighters and emergency responders from PFAS exposure in the line of duty was also signed into law.