Stamas bill would require U.S. Air Force to fix problem of contaminated Oscoda well water

Sen. Jim Stamas

Sen. Jim Stamas

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Jim Stamas on Wednesday introduced legislation that would require the U.S. Air Force to fix the water safety problem they caused near the former Wurtsmith Air Force Base.

“The federal government caused this problem and they need to fix it,” said Stamas, R-Midland. “I was in the community and listened to impacted residents at a public meeting with state and federal officials. At that hearing, the Air Force said that they would fix it if the state required them to do so. This legislation would hold the federal government to their word and force them to pay for what they have done.”

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) held a public open house and meeting in Oscoda on March 23 to discuss the contamination.

Earlier this year, the U.S. Air Force and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality sent some homeowners near the former Wurtsmith Air Force Base letters concerning tests of their well water. The tests indicated that perfluorinated compounds (PFCs) were present in the water, although the levels for two PFCs were lower than the Environmental Protection Agency values.

The DHHS followed up with a letter stating it could not predict who may be affected, and as a precautionary measure, it recommended that the residents whose wells were tested avoid drinking their well water or using it for cooking. Touching the well water was not harmful, so doing dishes and laundry and using it for bathing were fine.

Senate Bill 950 would require the U.S. Armed Forces responsible for an active or inactive military base to connect homeowners near a base to a safe, community water system if the DHHS has issued a drinking water advisory for the area and the U.S. Armed Forces acknowledges that the subject of the advisory migrated from a military base and is present in the groundwater.

SB 950 has been referred to the Senate Natural Resources Committee for consideration.