Michigan House Democrats call for greater state action against PFAs, cite 6-year-old report warning of contaminants

Posted at 5:56 PM, Sep 04, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-04 17:56:44-04

LANSING, Mich. -- As the PFAs water crisis grows in Michigan and nationwide, state House Democrats are calling on House Republicans to act on pending PFAs legislation. They also say they're disgusted, stating an MDEQ report surfaced six years warning of PFAs in several water systems, but say the state did nothing.

"To find out that the state was sitting on information and not acting on it to the detriment of our constituents is very troubling, and I would like more information about that so that we can ensure first and foremost that we’re doing everything we can right now and that it never happens again," said Rep. Winnie Brinks, D - Grand Rapids.

Brinks and officials across party lines call the PFAs crisis in Michigan urgent. But Brinks tells FOX 17 she's troubled, when a Michigan Department of Environmental Quality report was allegedly made six years ago warning the state of PFAs, including in the Flint River, before it was chosen as the city's water source.

"There was a report prepared by a DEQ scientist that talked about the presence of this chemical [PFAs] in various water systems and made a whole list of recommended actions for what should happen, including looking into all the water systems, but also evaluating impact on the whole food chain and the fish that we eat and things like that," said Brinks.

"So there’s a whole list of recommendations that were not acted on and progress that could have been made for the last six years and nothing was done."

Tuesday, Brinks and other state House Democrats held a press conference calling on the Michigan legislature to do more to fight PFAs. They said House Republicans have not acted on Brinks’ legislation introduced last December, which proposes setting a regulatory PFAs level in water that the state could enforce.

FOX 17 reached out to several House Republicans for comment and spoke with House Republicans’ Communications Director Gideon D'Assandro who said:

"House Republicans are focused on getting the state's emergency response up and running first. The Legislature has spent more than $60 million so far on lab equipment, testing, healthcare, getting boots on the ground in the affected communities, and the initial cleanup efforts, including almost $40 million that was approved earlier this summer. The state is still working on testing water systems statewide and finding affected communities, and the Legislature's focus needs to remain on this emergency testing and response until experts can determine the extent of the problem. This simply has to be done first."

Brinks says more must be done.

"To assess the problem and to understand where we do have issues with PFAs in our drinking water is an important first step," said Brinks. "But our failure to act on that, or to create regulatory certainty for those cities and municipalities about what actually is a safe level that is protective of human health, is a real disservice to our constituents."