County reps. support measure to clean contaminated waterways

By: Julie Snyder | C&G Newspapers | Published February 15, 2018

MACOMB COUNTY — The five Republican legislators representing Macomb County are voicing their support for a resolution currently in the Michigan House of Representatives that they say would ultimately ensure the effective use of state funds provided to address a contaminant identified in the Clinton River and Lake St. Clair.

In December, the Legislature agreed to allocate $23.2 million to provide testing, monitoring and technical assistance at more than a dozen sites across Michigan where per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, have been found in the groundwater.

State Reps. Diana Farrington, Pamela Hornberger, Peter Lucido, Steve Marino and Jeff Yaroch all supported the budget allocation and a Feb. 6 resolution that provides a framework to ensure public tax dollars are used in an impactful way.

“We need to act quickly and efficiently to address the contamination in Macomb County,” Marino said in a prepared statement.

Marino’s Harrison Township district includes the lake, the river and Selfridge Air National Guard Base, which is adjacent to two of the contaminated sites.

“The resolution we approved today will help form a sensible action plan to guide the efforts of state agencies and the PFAS Action Response Team appointed by Gov. (Rick) Snyder,” he said.

The resolution calls on the PFAS Action Response Team to create a scientific advisory committee made up of experts with various backgrounds.

“It’s important to ensure the spending decisions made by the PFAS Action Response Team are backed by science,” said Farrington, whose district includes Utica, Sterling Heights and Shelby Township. “The advisory committee will conduct a nonbiased scientific risk assessment to determine, among other things, the extent of PFAS contamination in Michigan and who is responsible for its presence.”

A representative for the PFAS Action Response Team could not be reached for comment by press time.

Hornberger, whose district encompasses Chesterfield Township, said in a statement that this will also help determine the extent of public exposure.

“The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality has identified 14 locations in Michigan so far, but I believe this will go much further,” she said. “PFAS are found in everything from fire foam used by the military to carpets, clothing and upholstery found in all homes.”

In addition, the scientific advisory committee will be asked to conduct an evaluation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s current drinking water health advisory level of 70 parts per trillion.

“This is a complex issue that the state of Michigan is likely going to be dealing with for many years to come,” said Shelby Township Rep. Lucido. “The information gathered by the scientific advisory committee will give us the tools we need to make sure state resources are spent in an effective and efficient manner.”

Yaroch, who represents Richmond, said information gathered by the advisory committee will help guide Michigan’s PFAS response in the future.

“Protecting our fresh water is a top priority, and we need to respond quickly to address the risks of PFAS,” he said.

The measure will next go before the Senate for consideration.