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City of Portage testing 25 residential wells for PFAS after it was discovered at old landfill site

Posted at 9:02 PM, Jan 27, 2020

PORTAGE, Mich. — The City of Portage announced in a statement that 25 residential water wells are being tested for perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl contamination, also called PFAs, that they believe stem from an old landfill site on South Westnedge Avenue.

For years the site has been a large park with baseball fields, a hockey rink, dog park and skateboard area. However, residents in the area said decades ago it was the city's landfill.

“Because we had this landfill where it’s something that we needed to test and we were testing it for a period of time,” said city manager Joe La Margo. “Then when PFAS started to rear it’s ugly head, they started recently testing for that back in April.”

La Margo said they have an environmentalist who tested the site and other areas in the city.

According to the press release, they discovered a PFAS contamination in May 2019 at the site. Months later they learned that the PFAS were ‘potentially migrating beyond the boundaries of the site.’

“It was back in November that we noticed that one of the areas going north, it started to run off of the property,” La Margo said during an interview with FOX 17. “So we talked to our environmentalist. We contacted [Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy].”

In late January, the wells were tested and the results should return later this week, he said.

“The neighbors and I, we’ve all talked about it especially those of us that kind of back right up against the old dump and some of them are like do we need to move?” said resident Danielle Stoop. “We have small kids and we’re consistently over there. You know either walking the dog or walking with the kids. So how is that going to impact us in the future. We just don’t know.”

Stoops neighbor Kimberly Ebels said she isn’t as concerned, considering the drinking water isn’t affected. However, Ebels wish she knew what was in the ground before moving to the neighborhood.

“It’s been mentioned the carcinogens factor,” Ebels said. “If I had known it was a landfill, I probably wouldn’t have been as eager to buy in this area which concerns me, trying to re-sell the house and then we have the pool.”

The press release stated that after the testing and sampling is complete, the City of Portage along with Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) and EGLE will host a joint press conference the week of February 10th to discuss their findings.

In the meantime, there’s no need for residents to panic, La Margo said.

“We always tell everybody to you know proceed with caution,” La Margo said. “If they want we can hook them up to city water especially in those areas there. They have access to city water if they need to be hooked up to that.”