Water sampling near CRTC to begin soon

ALPENA –Groundwater sampling for PFCs in residential wells near the Alpena Combat Readiness Training Center is expected to begin soon and so far more than 150 people have requested testing.

Once the testing is conducted and the results returned to rthe Michigan Department of Environmental Quality more will be known about the potential contamination and what measures need to be taken next.

Last month perfluorooctanoic acid and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid was detected when monitoring wells at the base were tested. The military and DEQ quickly devised a plan for residential testing for wells within a one-mile radius of the base.

According to DEQ Director of Public Affairs and Outreach Melanie Brown, testing on a few monitoring wells near the base will begin shortly and then residential wells will follow. She said elderly people who have wells, as well as families with young children or people with health issues, will be priorities, but the DEQ and its contractor Aecom will be working hard to get everyone tested quickly. Brown said there also are daycare providers near the base and they will be tested soon as well.

Brown said as of Friday there were 150 people in the queue to have their wells tested. She said it is likely that number will increase. She said once the test results are returned, which could take as long as four to six weeks, the DEQ will plan its next steps. She said right now it is hard to devise a plan because it is unknown if there is any contamination outside of the base and how large of a PFC plume there is. The testing also will show scientists what direction it is moving and the level of contamination.

“The data is what will determine what our next step needs to be and help us be able to come up with a map,” Brown said. “It will tell us if we need to expand testing out to five miles? Do we need to test closer to the river? These are things we just don’t know at this point, but will be answered when the test results start coming in.”

If there is any PFOA or PFOS detected there is a plan to provide alternate drinking water sources to residents. That could include bottled water or a carbon filter made to go on a faucet. There are multiple locations in the city and township where people can go and fill water containers with fresh water if they want.

The city will have two locations: one is at the utility office on Harbor Drive and the other at the DPW facility on Long Lake Road. Alpena Township will have three locations where people can fill up containers: Cliff Anschuetz Chevrolet, south side fire station and the water pump station on M-32 near Don’s Tractor.

Water containers will be given away at District Health No. 4 in Alpena.

Brown said the DEQ and Aecom employees will be knocking on doors and introducing themselves before conducting testing. She said each one will have a badge that will identify who they are and who they work for. Brown said if they do not have a badge, do not let them into your home or near your well.

Once the first round of testing is done and the results are compiled, Brown said another town hall meeting will take place to update residents on the results and what the next step of the process will be. She said that could happen before the end of the year.

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