Gov. Rick Snyder on Monday created a task force to swiftly deal with certain contaminants in the wake of toxins found in well water systems near Grand Rapids.
The creation of the Michigan PFAS Action Response Team by the governor is what state officials say is to “ensure a comprehensive, cohesive and timely response to the continued mitigation of perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances” around the state.
The team, state officials say, is charged with helping to better coordinate cooperation between local, state and federal officials who are supposed to address the “potential effects of PFAS in Michigan and protecting public health.”
Scores of residents of Rockford and Plainfield Township have reported their wells tested for thousands of parts per trillion of perfluroalkyl substances — man-made chemicals that if ingested could result in, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, increased cholesterol levels, low infant birth weights, damaged immune systems and an increased risk of cancer.
“To safeguard Michiganders from this emerging contaminant, it’s critical that responding agencies at all levels are effectively communicating and coordinating efforts,” Snyder said in a statement. “This team will be instrumental in establishing protocols and best practices that will allow all partners to comprehensively address these contaminants across Michigan.”
West Michigan residents have been reeling for months after Rockford-based Wolverine Worldwide revealed that chemicals from making popular products like Hush Puppies, Stride Rite and Merrell shoes had leached into the area’s many wells. The number of dumping sites range from 40-45 and counting, state officials say.
The task force team will be led by retired Michigan Chief Deputy Attorney General Carol Isaacs.