U.P. water and soil contamination areas


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MICHIGAN — In our previous reports, we have discussed the contamination of the water and soil at the former K.I. Sawyer Air Force Base as a result of PFAS chemicals. To learn more about the specific contamination at Sawyer, click here. To learn about the possible human and animal effects from PFAS, click here.

However, K.I. Sawyer is not the only location in the U.P. that has tested positive for PFAS contamination, in fact, many military and large industry areas across the United States have concerns with contamination.

Jennifer Gray, PhD, Toxicologist, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services explains, “They were used in multiple industries. It’s certainly places with the specific industries that use these chemicals, yes, they may be there.”

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) identifies 29 confirmed PFAS sites in the state of Michigan; two of which are located in the U.P. That is K.I. Sawyer and the Escanaba Defense Fuel Supply Point. This location stored and supplied jet fuel to K.I. Sawyer Air Force Base via pipeline.

Soil and groudwater samples were collected from the Escanaba location and seven residential wells were sampled. According to the DEQ there are no drinking water concerns at this time. Results for soil and groundwater are still under review.

Local 3 also spoke with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to learn about testing been done at other former air bases in the U.P.; such as Kincheloe Air Force Base in Kinross, Michigan. While no PFAS chemicals were found, there were elevated levels of other contaminants. Testing was completed at Kincheloe in 2011 and the DEQ continues to monitor the wells. The Kincheloe drinking water is safe to drink.

Angela Minicuci, Communications Director, Michigan Dept. of Health and Human Services says, “One of the biggest things that we recommend for anyone around any kind of potential site, whether it’s contaminated for sure or not, is that they get their drinking water tested for determining whether or not they should be concerned.”

To learn more about testing your water, you visit the Michigan DEQ website here. There are also many local organizations and companies that will test water. 

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