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Dingell, Tlaib Press for More Information on New PFAS Sites in Southeast Michigan

MPART Added Two Sites with Identified PFAS Contamination: Schaefer Road Wastewater Treatment Plant and Rouge Manufacturing Complex in Dearborn & the Marathon Petroleum Company in Detroit.

Washington, September 11, 2020

DEARBORN, MI – Today, Congresswomen Debbie Dingell (D-MI) and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) pressed for more information on newly identified PFAS contamination sites in Deaborn and Detroit, Michigan. The Michigan PFAS Action Response Team (MPART) identified two new sites in the Congresswomen’s districts with identified PFAS contamination: the Schaefer Road Wastewater Treatment Plant and Rouge Manufacturing Complex (RMC) in Dearborn and the Marathon Petroleum Company in Detroit.

Dingell and Tlaib asked questions of the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) to have a full understanding of the scale of the contamination and the planned response to move forward on remediation. 

“While we applaud MPART and the State of Michigan for acting in the absence of federal leadership to identify, locate, and respond to PFAS contamination, we are concerned for the communities in our districts after the listing of these sites,” wrote Dingell and Tlaib. “It is also alarming that the state’s knowledge of these contamination sites could go back to possibly as early as summer 2019.”

The members also announced they will be hosting a community town hall soon with details to be announced as they become available.

Dingell and Tlaib’s letter and questions are available here or below:

Dear Director Clark and Administrator Wheeler:

We write to you after the recent announcement by the Michigan PFAS Action Response Team (MPART) to add two new sites in our districts with identified per- and polyfluoroalkyl substance (PFAS) contamination to its formal list—specifically, the Schaefer Road Wastewater Treatment Plant and Rouge Manufacturing Complex (RMC) in Dearborn and the Marathon Petroleum Company in Detroit. 

While we applaud MPART and the State of Michigan for acting in the absence of federal leadership to identify, locate, and respond to PFAS contamination, we are concerned for the communities in our districts after the listing of these sites and Southeast Michigan. It is also alarming that the state’s knowledge of these contamination sites could go back to possibly as early as summer 2019.

Given the harmful health and environmental effects these forever chemicals pose to our communities and all Americans, we ask you to respond to the following questions related to both the Dearborn and Detroit sites so we have a full understanding of the scale of contamination and the planned response moving forward: 

Schaefer Road Area Wastewater Treatment Plant and Rouge Manufacturing Complex (Dearborn, MI)

  1. When did the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) request an initial investigation of the nature and extent of PFAS in groundwater and stormwater at these two sites? 
  2. Is there any data or estimates regarding the level of PFAS pollution discharged into the River Rouge from either of these sites?
  3. What impact will these PFAS contamination sites have on the short-term and long-term health of the River Rouge? Will any “Do Not Eat Fish” orders be instituted?
  4. Has any PFAS foam been identified or associated with these sites along the River Rouge? 
  5. Can you provide an overview of the agreed to workplan reach by EGLE and GHD, Ford, and AK Steel?
  6. Has EGLE identified any specific sources of the PFAS pollution at these joint sites?
  7. Moving forward, how often is EGLE planning to meet with GHD, Ford, and AK Steel to monitor progress of the agreed to workplan?
  8. According to fact sheet[1] provide our offices on this site, no residential drinking water sources seem to be impacted. Can you provide a summary of all the actions EGLE or EPA has taken or will take in the future to confirm drinking water for the surrounding communities is safe?
  9. Is EGLE engaged with or being assisted in any way by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on the listing, monitoring, or remediating of these PFAS contamination sites?

Marathon Petroleum Company (Detroit, MI)

  1. After large amounts of white foam were observed in Melvindale in 2018[2], when did EGLE request an initial investigation of the source, nature, and extent of the PFAS in groundwater and stormwater at this site? Is foam still present?
  2. When were PFOS and PFOA identified at this site? When was the public notified that PFOS and PFOA coming from Marathon had been detected in the GLWA sewer system?
  3. What impact will PFAS detected in the GLWA sewer system have on drinking water sources for residents? What impact will PFAS in the GLWA sewer system have on the Rouge River, Detroit River, residents’ drinking water, and the surrounding environment? Should residents be warned about using water in their homes or fishing and recreation in the area?
  4. What role will GLWA have in the monitoring and remediation of PFAS from Marathon? Will EGLE be working with GLWA, and if so, how?
  5. Has EGLE reviewed and approved Marathon’s workplan for remediation? Please provide an overview of Marathon’s workplan. How will EGLE ensure that residents, wildlife, and the surrounding environment will be made safe from Marathon’s decades of PFAS discharges? 
  6. When will remediation begin and when is it expected to be completed? Will updates be communicated to the public during this process?
  7. Will Marathon be responsible for all costs associated with the PFAS cleanup and remediation? Is Marathon subject to any legal action for their PFAS discharges? Can you estimate how much fire-fighting foam was used by Marathon? 
  8. Is EGLE engaged with or being assisted in any way by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on the listing, monitoring, or remediating of these PFAS contamination sites?
  9. As this site, as well as the Dearborn PFAS contamination site, undergo future remediation efforts, where will the PFAS waste will be sent for disposal?

Thank you for your attention to this important matter and for the state’s proactive work to identify and remediate PFAS contamination sites in Michigan. It is our shared responsibility to ensure public health and the environment is protected in our communities for future generations. Thank you for your consideration of this request and we look forward to a full response.  

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