PLAINFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich.-- Two men from Kent County are among dozens of Michiganders who are heading to the nation's capitol to advocate that action be taken against PFAS contamination in drinking water.
On September 26, the Subcommittee on Federal Spending Oversights and Emergency Management will be convening a hearing called "The Federal Role in the Toxic PFAS Chemical Crisis." Michigan Senator Gary Peters, who is the ranking member of that subcommittee, was instrumental in organizing the hearing.
"We have to get to the bottom of how these chemicals are being used and monitored, what long-term effects they may have on human health and the necessary steps for cleanup,” Senator Peters said in a statement.
In November 2017, FOX 17 first introduced viewers to Belmont resident Cody Angell. At the time, he was helping to start a Facebook group that now has thousands of members and is the basis for a registered non-profit called "Demand Action" that is centered on fixing PFAS contamination in Kent County and across the state of Michigan.
“We’re the United States. We really shouldn’t have to be fighting for clean water," Angell tells FOX 17. “We are here to the finish line and we know starting, when we first started that this wasn’t gonna be a short-term mission.”
Now, nearly a year later, that mission is taking him to that hearing in Washington D.C. on September 26.
“A trip to Washington means to me that hopefully we’ll be able to be heard," says Scott Harvey.
Harvey is a former Plainfield Township clerk and has been active in urging local officials to take action against PFAS contamination. Harvey will be joining Angell in Washington D.C.
The hearing will consist of two panels, one of which will have two witnesses who will share their personal experiences with PFAS contamination. Those witnesses are scheduled to be Andrea Amico, a mother of two children who attend daycare on Pease Air Force Base in Portsmouth, New Hampshire where contamination of PFAS is prominent. The other witness will be Arnold Leriche, the co-chair of the Wurtsmith Restoration Advisory Board and a resident of Oscoda. Leriche is also a former environmental engineer at the EPA.
The other panel will consist of officials like Senator Peters and the director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences for the National Institutes of Health.
“Hopefully they’ll be listening and then their staffs will get involved and it at least gives us a chance to have had our say," says Harvey.
In the past year, local officials have made progress in addressing PFAS contamination. Plainfield Township has installed a granulated active carbon system to remove PFAS from its municipal system, costing $750,000. The state of Michigan has set an official PFAS limit of 70 parts per trillion in drinking water and is spending $23 million on the issue. However, Angell and Harvey say much more needs to be done.
“We’ve seen some movement," says Angell. "It’s been kinda nice to kinda see the government but it’s been also a lot of smoke and mirrors.”
Angell says the limit of 70 ppt should be much lower and more investments need to be made for things like health studies and blood testing.
Officials have a long way to go but these activists say they won't stop working for change.
“He wanted to know how long I would be involved and I said until my dying breath because it’s important," says Harvey.
Harvey and Angell are asking people to share their experiences with PFAS contamination. If you have a testimony you'd like to share, you can email them at MiDemandsAction@gmail.com
They hope to take as many letters as possible with them to Washington D.C.