Peters to Convene Hearing on Federal Efforts to Address PFAS Contamination in Michigan and Across the Nation

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Gary Peters (D-MI), Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, will hold a hearing to examine how servicemembers, their families and communities in Michigan and across the country have been harmed by exposure to toxic Perfluoroalkyl and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) connected to military sites. The hearing titled “Examining Federal Efforts to Address PFAS Contamination” will be held on Thursday, December 9, 2021 at 10:15AM, and will be livestreamed on the Senator’s Facebook, Twitter and YouTube pages.

“Michigan communities continue to experience serious health and environmental impacts from exposure to harmful PFAS substances. That is why I am highly concerned about an Inspector General report that shows the Department of Defense did not take enough action to mitigate exposure to highly toxic PFAS chemicals for Americans who live near military bases – including servicemembers and their families,” said Senator Peters. “This hearing will give us the opportunity to hear from experts on how PFAS contamination has adversely impacted people in Michigan and across the nation, and what other resources and actions are needed to help clean up affected communities.” 

Peters convened the hearing after a Department of Defense (DoD) Inspector General report found that DoD failed to adequately control PFAS contamination at military sites across the nation – resulting in preventable harm to servicemembers, their families, and the surrounding communities. In Michigan, PFAS has contaminated local water supplies as well as fish and wildlife due to firefighting activities at the now decommissioned Wurtsmith Air Force Base in Oscoda, as well as at other sites across the state.

The committee will hear from two panels of expert witnesses on what lawmakers can do to make sure the federal government – including DoD – is working to prevent future harm from exposure to PFAS chemicals and ensure that every family across the nation has access to clean and safe drinking water.

The first panel will consist of federal government witnesses from DoD. The second will consist of state-level independent experts who will discuss the impacts of PFAS contamination across the nation, including in Michigan. The following witnesses are confirmed:

Panel I:

  • The Honorable Sean O’Donnell, Inspector General, Environmental Protection Agency and Acting Inspector General, U.S. Department of Defense;
  • Michael J. Roark, Deputy Inspector General for Evaluations, U.S. Department of Defense;
  • Richard G. Kidd, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Environment and Energy Resilience, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Sustainment, U.S. Department of Defense; and
  • Laura Macaluso, Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Force Safety and Occupational Health, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Readiness, U.S. Department of Defense.

Panel II:

  • Tony Spaniola, Co-Chair, Great Lakes PFAS Action Network;
  • Andrea Amico, Co-Founder, Testing for Pease; and
  • Mark Johnson, Deputy Director of Business and Regulatory Affairs, Environmental Protection Agency, State of Ohio.

The hearing is a part of Peters’ long-term efforts to address PFAS contamination in Michigan and across the country. His bill to help protect firefighters and emergency responders from PFAS exposure in the line of duty has passed the Senate. Peters also helped pass the bipartisan infrastructure law, which invests in clean drinking water and includes dedicated funding to address PFAS contamination. He supported or led provisions in the 2019 national defense bill banning the Department of Defense from purchasing firefighting foams containing PFAS. The bill also immediately prohibited the use of firefighting foams containing PFAS in military training exercises, and enhanced state cooperation with the Department of Defense regarding clean-up due to PFAS contamination stemming from military-related activities.

In September 2018, Peters helped convene the first hearing on PFAS contamination in the Senate, assessing the federal response to contamination and remediation. He then convened a field summit in Grand Rapids in November 2018 to shine a light on how the local, state and federal governments are coordinating their response to PFAS.