Alpena water system clear of PFCs

ALPENA — The water system in Alpena has been tested for the perfluorinated chemicals that were detected at the Alpena Combat Readiness Training in October and the tests show the drinking water has been unaffected.

Suez, the utility company that contracts with the City of Alpena to oversee water and sewer operations, conducted a pair of tests out of caution to be sure there are not high levels of perfluorooctanoic or perfluorooctanesulfonic acid.

Plant Manager Mike Glowinski said the company intended to test for the contaminates even before it was recommended to do so from Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. He said because of where the PFCs were detected at the base, it was prudent to do.

“We did it because of the proximity to the river and the possibility of contamination to the river,'” he said. “That water could have an impact on our intake, but there was nothing detected.”

Glowinski said the water at the intake, which draws water from Thunder Bay and into the plant was tested, as well as water from the tap. He said those are the two locations where monthly testing is done and there was nothing in the testing that was alarming.

“We did it because we just wanted to confirm it wasn’t a problem in our system and it isn’t,” Glowinski said. “The DEQ recommended that we do it, but we planned to do it even before that.”

The state is in the process of testing wells near the base to see if there are high levels of PFCs in them. Testing is to be done in a one-mile radius, but it could be pushed out further if additional contamination outside the base is found. The tests also will help to determine if there is a plume of PFC, how large it is and where it is moving.

According to District Health Department No. 4, testing on wells has begun and test results should be sent to the property owners shortly after Jan. 1. The state, military and local authorities will execute an action plan if contaminates are found in well water. Among the options are water filters and providing bottled water.

A special meeting at the base was held in mid-October and a follow-up will take place when more information about the test results and action plan is released.

Steve Schulwitz can be reached via email at sschulwitz@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5689. Follow Steve on Twitter ss_alpenanews.