At that time, the “area of concern” for PFAS-contaminated drinking water covered hundreds of homes near the withdrawn base. The Air Force has denied responsibility for nearly every contaminated well, forcing the state to provide bottled water or reverse osmosis filters under the sink. To date, an Air Force spokesperson said it has provided only one household with alternative drinking water, at a cost of $4,600.
Meanwhile, the spokesperson said the DOD is still conducting studies and identifying solutions in what it calls the “corrective investigation phase,” which is expected to be completed by the end of 2023. Next, the spokesperson said the department will need to complete a feasibility study, come up with a cleanup plan, allow 30 days for public comment and finalize the decision. It will probably be several more years before Oscoda sees the start of any real clean-up work.
The Department of Defense also said it lacked funding for a cleanup that is expected to cost Oscoda at least $239 million, though that figure could rise as the EPA tightens its PFAS regulations.
Congress stands ready to provide the funds, Kildee said. The DOD only has to give out a number, which it has been slow to do in the past.
“Let’s face it, the Ministry of Defense has never been shy about asking for money,” he said. “We’ve dramatically increased the amount of money available for the cleanup — it’s been driven by Congress … but they shouldn’t need congressional persuasion” to apply for funding.