Sen. Peters sends letter to EPA urging release of PFAS report; shutdown stalling response

Sen. Peters sends letter to EPA urging release of PFAS report; shutdown stalling response. (Sinclair Broadcast Group/File)

The push for more investigation and evaluation of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in Michigan and nationwide continues despite the federal government partial shutdown.

Sen. Gary Peters, D-Michigan, sent a letter to the acting director of the Environmental Protection Agency in late December, two days before the shutdown began, urging the agency to release the report on PFAS.

The letter comes after the Democratic Senator was at the forefront of the issue in Fall 2018, along with bipartisan support from members of the Michigan House of Representatives. The Congressional hearings turned the heat up on the PFAS problem and Peters vowed to keep the pressure.

“Those deadlines continue to slip away and they slip away and Congress needs to stay on this and we need to make sure that those deadlines don’t slip any further,” Peters said following the September hearing.

An enforceable drinking water standard floats to the top of the conversation whenever PFAS is brought up; Peters and others at the Senate hearing asked when, or if, the EPA would issue a drinking water standard instead of the current 70 parts per trillion health advisory.

Peter Grevatt, from the EPA, spoke at the Senate hearing in September and said the agency was continuing to monitor the situation, but a drinking standard would not come soon.

“We are talking about years before we could have that completed,” Grevatt said.

The EPA held an Oct. 2018 meeting in Kalamazoo to discuss the federal response and listen to concerns from community stakeholders. Following that meeting, Grevatt mentioned the national management plan again.

“The EPA is committed to looking carefully at the issue of developing a national drinking water standard for PFOA and PFAS, that work is underway in terms of exploring that,” he explained. “That will be addressed in our management plan we hope to release by the end of the year [2018].”

The EPA did not respond to an inquiry Thursday about the status of the PFAS report. The public information officer’s phone was turned off and email requests bounced back – all with the same message.

“During the government shutdown, I will not be checking or returning messages. Once the shutdown is over, I will get back in touch with you,” Enesta Jones said.

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality announced Thursday that a planned townhall with the EPA scheduled for Jan. 23 in Rockford is postponed until further notice, citing the shutdown as the reason for the cancelling. The Wolverine Worldwide investigation was on the agenda.

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