State mulls PFAS regulations, public weighs in

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — State environmental officials hosted the first of three public hearings on whether Michigan should become one of the first states in the U.S. to regulate the amount of PFAS allowed in municipal water supplies.

The state is considering the implementation of rules that would set limits on the amount of PFAS chemicals allowed in municipal water. The proposed rules would limit PFOS to 16 parts per trillion — well below the federal advisory level of 70 parts per trillion.

Some of those speaking at the hearing held on Grand Valley State University’s downtown Grand Rapids campus, said the proposed rules don’t go far enough. No one spoke against implementing the rules and all encouraged state officials to head down this path.

“There should be no tolerance for this chemical whatsoever,” Larry Campbell, a concerned citizen who spoke during the meeting, said. “If you care about your children, grandchildren and great grandchildren, I implore the PFAS MCL (maximum contaminant level) standards to be set at zero parts per trillion. No exceptions.”

The Department of Environment Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) is hosting three public hearings on the matter and is accepting comment via email at EGLE-PFAS-RuleMaking@Michigan.gov until Jan. 31.

EGLE may then revise the rules before sending them to the Environmental Rules Review Committee for consideration. That committee can reject the rules, make changes or approve them and forward them to the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules, the legislative committee which has final say on whether the rules become official.

A spokesperson for EGLE said he was hopeful the rules would be finalized by spring.

Among those who spoke at the hearing was Sandy Wynn-Stelt who lives across the street from the former House Street dump. The site was contaminated after Wolverine Worldwide disposed of chemicals used in the shoe-making process that contained PFAS. She has extremely high levels of PFAS in her blood and her well was the worst contaminated residential wells in the Rockford area.

“I, more than probably most people, can attest to the cost that these chemicals can have in your life,” Wynn-Stelt said at the hearing.

State Sen. Winnie Brinks also spoke during the hearing. “We should never have to learn these lessons the hard way,” Brinks said. “We should never have to hear Sandy’s story again.”