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Wednesday afternoon at the Oscoda United Methodist Church, Need Our Water (N.O.W.) and Oscoda community members came together to hold a rally demanding action from the United States Air Force. The community in Oscoda has had enough and is forcing the Air Force to take responsibility for the widespread PFAS contamination from the former Wurtsmith Air Force Base. PFAS is a polyfluorinated substance that was used in the foam in the fire suppressing equipment on base. Clayton Jolly, a protester and retired US Navy veteran, said, “I don’t know if they realize that all the chemicals that were in their fire fighting foam, but once they did, they should’ve immediately started taking a remedial action of some sort.”

The biggest issue with the contamination is that it infects the water supply and local ecosystem surrounding the former base. Dave Slaggert, a protester, said, “For future generations on into forever, we want this water clean, and we didn’t cause this water to be contaminated.” He said, “It was the Air Force base, and our government needs to take care of it. They need to do something and not put a band–aid on it, but really do the job and clean our water.”

A quick press conference and community update was held before the restoration advisory board meeting between community officials and those representing the companies involved. Cathy Wusterbarth, a cofounder of Need Our Water (N.O.W.), said, “The last person with some public comments mentioned we’re 14 years into this, and clearly it’s a complex situation. So that’s why we’re having these meetings so we can discuss all their plans.” She said, “You know we are into 14 years with not a solid plan, so you heard us ask about this interim remedial action, which can be put in place to stop the flow of those PFAS chemicals off the base, and that’s what we really want done now.”

Cathy Wusterbarth, Co-Founder of Need Our Water (N.O.W.)

The at times heated meeting started to lay down an effective plan of attack moving forward. It also gave the people of Oscoda a chance to have their voices heard with their own questions or displeasure about how the situation turned into a 14 year fiasco handled by the Air Force. Wusterbarth said, “Rightly so, so we’re pretty frustrated at the length of time it takes, and you know understand that everyone that is working on this board in terms of community members and our N.O.W. group, we’re all volunteers.” She said, “We’re doing this to just help our community and to protect their families and our neighbor. So most people in the room like this are being paid to be there, and we are not. We just love our community.”