No dangerous PFAS in wells near old Portage landfill

Toxic Tap Water

PORTAGE, Mich. (WOOD) — Testing around a former landfill in Portage revealed that dangerous PFAS contamination has not spread to nearby wells, officials say.

What is now South Westnedge Park was a landfill before it closed in the early 1990s. PFAS was first discovered there last year as part of groundwater monitoring and neighbors were informed then. Testing of nearby wells started last month.

None of the tests for 22 residential wells came back with PFAS levels at or above the federal safety threshold for drinking water. The highest levels of combined PFOA and PFOS — two members of the PFAS class of chemicals — was 17 parts per trillion, well below the advisory limit of 70 ppt.

The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) has been assisting city officials in monitoring and investigating the PFAS contamination.  

Health and environmental officials held a public meeting Thursday evening at Portage City Hall to outline where things stand now and the next steps.

“The water is safe to drink,” EGLE Environmental Quality Analyst Erica Bays said. “(The numbers are) below standards and they are below screening levels.” 

>>Online: Test results (PDF)

Despite the test results, city officials are encouraging any residents that rely on a private well for drinking water to switch to the city’s water system. 

“We prefer everyone to be on city water because we test our wells constantly,” Portage City Manager Joseph La Margo said. “We’re always monitoring them … so we know that you’re safe.”

Moving forward, officials will focus their investigation on finding the source of the contamination as well as identifying other environmental impacts of the contamination.   

“There’s still some work that needs to be done all around the site to really nail down the source area and we’ll figure out how to deal with that so we can stop the continuation of contamination,” Bays said.  

Dozens of places around Michigan are contaminated with PFAS, which has been found in all sorts of things from Teflon to Scotchgard. The likely carcinogen has also been linked to other illnesses like ulcerative colitis and thyroid problems.

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