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District’s Environmental Health Director Addresses Oscoda Water Contamination Concerns


We got some answers on the Oscoda water contamination issue from District Health Department #2’s Environmental Health Director.

Although this may be news to some, Oscoda residents have been discussing a solution to contaminates found in their ground water since it was announced in February last year. On April 25th, a town hall meeting was held in Oscoda to continue the conversation, and catch up those of us who didn’t have all the details.

The contaminants, called perfluorinated chemicals, or PFA’s, were accidentally leaked into groundwater by the former Wurtsmith Air Force Base. The extremely useful firefighting foam used by the base seeped into the groundwater, causing certain residents’ well water to rise above the health standard. Environmental Health Director Chuck Lichon says while they are still trying to understand the issue completely, they are working closely with residents to make sure they have access to safe drinking water.

“As local health department we’re working with the people on alternative water systems whether they want to get an RO, or reverse osmosis as they call it, onto their drinking water system in the house. Or they can get a water cooler. So we work with them in that respect,” says Lichon. This is not just a local issue, however. The air force is currently working with PFA leakages in cities across the nation.

“The Wurtsmith Air Force Base is only one of forty in the US that comes under what they call a Brock Program. And 38 of the 40 also have issues with these Perfluorinated chemicals or PFA’s, into the groundwater,” Lichon says.

Watch Insights this weekend for the in-depth interview with the district’s Environmental Health Director. We’ll unveil the history that led to the leaks in the first place, learn about the different organizations involved and what they’re doing to combat the problem locally, and hear how the Air Force is responding to the national threat.