Statement on State of Michigan's PFAS suit against Gerald R. Ford International Airport

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CASCADE — On Monday, the state Office of Attorney General announced it is suing the Gerald R. Ford International Airport Authority for PFAS (per- and poly fluoroalkyl substances) contamination of drinking water wells in Cascade Township and adjacent areas. The press release states the airport has failed to accept responsibility for contamination despite numerous compliance requests from the state Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE).

Cascade Township officials were not aware of the state Attorney General’s office plans to pursue a lawsuit until Monday’s announcement. But any efforts to benefit Cascade residents and the natural environment are a net positive, said Cascade Township Supervisor Grace Lesperance.

“We’re pleased that the state is taking this contamination seriously,” said Lesperance. “This suit can only benefit residents and protect our environment.”

From the beginning of the discovery of PFAS in residential neighborhood groundwater near the airport in 2018, the Township has been steadfast in its approach to finding solutions and advocating for Cascadians who have been affected by the presence of these so-called “forever chemicals.”

Extensive testing of residential wells over several years by EGLE revealed the presence of PFAS in groundwater downstream from the airport. The township, in collaboration with the City of Grand Rapids, EGLE, and other community partners determined that extending city drinking water to the more than 400 homes found to have elevated PFAS levels in their well water was the best course of action. This project, which is being funded entirely by state, federal, and airport sources, began in 2022 and is expected to wrap up in 2024. 

Remediation efforts up to this point however have not addressed the underlying issue of the presence of PFAS in the environment in affected areas near the Thornapple River and its tributaries. The potential for this suit to addressing environmental concerns is a welcome development for Cascade and the Grand Rapids region as a whole, said Lesperance.

“Cascade has and will continue to work with the airport, the state, the City of Grand Rapids and other partners to ensure the public has access to safe drinking water, and  that any impacts to Cascade’s waterways and natural environment are remediated to the fullest extent possible,” said Lesperance.

For more information on Cascade’s ongoing efforts regarding PFAS, visit our PFAS Remediation Water Extension Project page. To learn more about the risks of PFAS, please visit the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s dedicated PFAS web page.

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