Grayling National Guard, MDEQ Update Residents On Groundwater Testing Again

Another room was filled with concerned people who wanted to know if it’s safe to drink their own well water, possibly tainted by chemicals from a nearby airfield.

Monday night, the Michigan Army National Guard and several state agencies met with the people of Grayling again.

Testing began in May after traces of per-fluorinated chemicals, known as PFAS, were found in groundwater near the Grayling Army Airfield.

“Are they testing it the right way?” asks Bob Bonkowski, who has lived in Grayling for 45 years. “Do they know what they are testing for?”

Another town hall meeting, another packed room — this time, at Grayling High School.

Bonkowski was among the many with questions.

“There are people involved in this that are doing something,” Bonkowski says. “By that I mean do they have other people, other labs involved, checking all of the problems that we have?”

The Michigan DEQ, alongside the Department of Health and Human Services, Health Department #10, and the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, says 407 wells have been tested, so far.

114 wells have PFAS, 10 of them have levels higher than the EPA Lifetime Health Advisory.

The testing range has also expanded, including Lake Margrethe in Camp Grayling in the form of foam samples.

“It affects the community,” says Maj. Gen. Michael Stone, Assistant Adjutant General for the Michigan National Guard. “If anybody could test positive for PFOS, PFAS from the firefighting foam or any of these contaminants in the water, it affects their lives.”

Maj. Gen. Stone says there’s still work to be done.

“We don’t see a quick end to the testing,” Stone says. “We see this as it’s going to go on for a while until we can identify plumes underground movement or where it is, sources and also different types of contaminants.”

Carol Isaacs, director the governor’s new PFAS response team, MPART, says this issue is in the governor’s crosshairs.

“The response is to help expedite the process and make it more cohesive and thorough and it is being run and managed through the governor’s office, which will demonstrate that he is really very focused on this issue,” Isaacs says.

As for those like Bonkowski still using filters, they just want a solution.

“Once they say that they have it contained, or know what it is and if they know what it is, how do we rectify it?” Bonkowski says. “How do we fix it?”