High PFAS levels in well near Battle Creek base

Kalamazoo and Battle Creek

SPRINGFIELD, Mich. (WOOD) — State officials on Monday released details about their first round of testing for PFAS in wells within a mile of the Battle Creek Air National Guard base.

Officials say they believe PFAS contamination around the base on West Dickman Road came from AFFF firefighting foam that was used on the base for years, primarily for training.

For the first round of testing, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality checked 61 residential wells within a mile of the base. Forty-one wells had no detectable PFAS, a likely carcinogen. Nineteen tested below the state standard of 70 parts per trillion. One well north of the base tested high, with two readings of 406 and 411 ppt, DEQ officials said.

Tests of a non-residential well also revealed levels of PFAS above the state standard, but the precise numbers weren’t available Monday.

State and local health officials held a meeting at the Burma Center in Springfield Monday. A few dozen residents showed up to see a presentation about the PFAS contamination and ask questions of authorities.

“Water is supposed to be pure,” said Ron Collins, who lives in Athens. “If it’s not, you never know what it’s going to cause.”

Pat Beronja lives near the base and her well was among those found to have low levels of PFAS below the state standard.

“Ours was only in the 30s or something like that — real low. So I’m not real worried. I’m concerned, of course, but not as concerned as I might have been,” she told 24 Hour News 8 after the meeting.

Battle Creek is not far from Kalamazoo County, where high levels of PFAS were found in the city of Parchment’s water supply. The findings caused the state to advise thousands who use the water to stop drinking it. Some wondered if that type of contamination has happened to the Battle Creek system.

“I think it’s too soon to say. That’s why we’re testing all the water systems through the state,” DEQ spokesman Scott Dean told 24 Hour News 8. “No state in the union is testing all their public water systems, but Michigan is. … We’ve sampled Battle Creek. We should have those results quite soon.”

The Air National Guard is working with the state to remedy the situation and representatives said the military is committed to helping with the response, including paying to deal with any contamination linked to the base. It has already done so near Wurtsmith Air Force Base on the other side of the state, where PFAS was found in wells and on a lake.

Since learning of the environmental concerns, the Air National Guard is using a different type of firefighting foam that is better for the environment.

“There are over 200 installations in the country where AFFF was known to have been used, so this is something that is not just an issue in Battle Creek or Michigan,” Air National Guard 1st Lt. Andrew Layton said. “This is a national issue.”

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Online:

Michigan PFAS Action Response Team

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