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Landfill to add PFAS to chemical testing list

ATLANTA — The Montmorency Oscoda Alpena Solid Waste Mangement Authority landfill will add per and polyfluoroalkyl substances, also known as PFAS, to the list of chemicals it tests for on a quarterly basis.

The landfill board learned on Friday that the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy, formerly known as the Department of Environmental Quality, has approved of the PFAS sampling plan the landfill submitted to them in May. EGLE has requested that higher risk landfill sites around the state conduct PFAS sampling in monitoring wells and submit a sampling plan to them for approval.

“EGLE is requesting that the sampling be conducted by no later than Sept. 30, 2019,” John Ozoga, assistant district supervisor for EGLE’s materials management division, wrote in his letter to the board. “As per the plan, upon completion of the sampling, the data shall be provided to EGLE within 60 days.”

Landfill administrator Connie Gerrie said the landfill tests its monitoring wells quarterly and the purpose of the wells are to make sure certain chemicals aren’t escaping the landfill. The sampling requirement from EGLE adds PFAS to that list.

“Our hope is that when we test those groundwater cells that the PFAS will not be showing up outside the landfill parameter,” she said. “Because if it is, then we need to keep moving forward and seeing where is it coming from — do we have something leaking — and we want to make sure it stays contained in the landfill.”

Per and polyfluoroalkyl substances are a group of man-made chemicals that have properties that allow them to repel both water and oil. They can be found in food packaging, contaminated drinking water, clothing, shoes, household cleaning products, paints and living organisms such as fish.

The Environmental Protection Agency website states both chemicals are very persistent in the environment and the human body — meaning they don’t break down and they can accumulate over time. The website also states there is evidence that exposure to PFAS can lead to adverse human health effects.

The MOA Landfill sampling plan states the objective of sampling for PFAS is to determine whether to select PFAS compounds are detected in the groundwater at certain groundwater monitoring well locations. It also states, the testing will be able to evaluate potential sources as well as the significance of any detection in the groundwater.

“If PFAS is found to be present, additional effort will be made to qualify a level of concern to potential down gradient users of the groundwater,” the plan states.

Gerrie said because PFAS is in “everything,” and is “everywhere,” she anticipates they will find PFAS at the landfill. But she wanted to clarify the landfill isn’t the cause of PFAS and the authority, along with EGLE, wants to make sure PFAS isn’t leaving the landfill.

Crystal Nelson can be reached at 989-358-5687 or cnelson@thealpenanews.com.