National Guard to test residential wells for firefighting foam

About 100 homes with private wells are at risk of contamination

Associated Press

GRAYLING, Mich. — The Michigan National Guard plans to test residential drinking wells near its main training facility after a plume of toxic chemicals was discovered in groundwater.

About 70 people attended a meeting Friday about the testing for residents living near Camp Grayling, which is west of Traverse City, MLive reported. The Guard said about 100 homes with private wells just west and south of the Grayling Army Airfield are at risk of contamination from perfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS.

Tests in March detected two types of PFAS — perfluorooctanoic acid and perfluorooctyl sulfonate — at concentrations above the federal health advisory level in the airfield's five monitoring wells. The contaminants are tied to health problems involving the thyroid, kidney, liver, reproductive organs and other issues.

Guard archives reference a fire rescue training area at the base where firefighting foam that carried PFAS may have been used, project manager Rob MacLeod said. He said the military's historic reliance on the foam has resulted in hundreds of active and former bases coming under investigation and pollution cleanup.

Camp Grayling no longer stores the foam, MacLeod said. He said the Guard will take samples from private wells because the boundaries of the plume are unclear.

"Our primary concern is public health," he said.

Kyle Bond, superintendent of Grayling's Department of Public Works, said homes with impacted wells will receive free water jugs from the local supermarket for an indefinite amount of time. He noted that the city's water supply is considered safe.

"We're going to help our neighbors as long as we need to," Bond said.

MacLeod said the Guard's administrative department is planning to issue a contract for a comprehensive environmental investigation of the 147,000-acre camp this summer.

"We'll be looking at everything in the area to make sure we haven't left any stone unturned," he said. "Right now, our focus is on the residential wells."

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