National Guard, Scientists Update Grayling Homeowners on PFAS Investigation

Thursday night, the state gave Grayling homeowners an update on their PFAS investigation.

PFAS has been found in dangerous amounts in more than 17 homes near Camp Grayling and Lake Margrethe. It came from firefighting foams used at Camp Grayling, which later seeped into the watershed.

The Army National Guard is working on infrastructure to connect homes to a clean drinking water system.

If funding can be secured, design and construction could begin this fall. The plan is to connect three homes in the city of Grayling to municipal water systems, while 14 homes in Grayling township would need to use water from brand new infrastructure.

The National Guard says the project could cost $9 million. They expect to have $5 million secured, but need the additional funding to start the project this year. Otherwise, they will have to wait until 2022 to begin, which is the next time federal funds would be available.

The army will be supplying affected homes with bottled water until the project is done.

Hundreds of homes in the area have been tested for PFAS, including that of Fred and Nancy Atchison, who have lived on Lake Margrethe for more than 20 years. They have seen PFAS foam rolling onto their shores.

“It looks like somebody’s washing machine has run over because it gets real white and foamy then it disappears,” said Nancy Atchison. “We never paid any attention to it until we found out that there was PFAS.”

Just a handful of them have dangerous amounts of the chemical. The Environmental Protection Agency says anything in excess of 70 parts per trillion is toxic.

600 water samples were taken near Camp Grayling.

-445 had no detectable PFAS

-215 had detectable PFAS, below the 70 parts per trillion health advisory

-17 had PFAS above 70 parts per trillion

But earlier this year, the Michigan PFAS Action Response Team (MPART) rolled out data that suggested that some kinds of the chemical may be toxic in amounts as low as six parts per trillion. These drinking water levels are some of the strictest in the country.

MPART will release a draft of their findings and the maximum PFAS contaminant levels in October. New safety standards could be enforced statewide in the spring.

“It’s hard to believe what they’re saying about this,” said Atchison. “Our kids, our grandkids, our great grand kids have come and played in the water. It’s a beautiful lake, and [the PFAS] is just so shameful.”

If the state enforces stricter standards, hundreds more homes in Grayling may need to be connected to an alternate drinking water source.