Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel is suing Grand Rapids' Gerald R. Ford International Airport Authority.

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On Monday, Sept. 11, Attorney General Nessel filed a lawsuit in the Kent County 17th Judicial Circuit Court against the Gerald R. Ford International Airport Authority.

The State says this comes after the Airport Authority ignored repeated warnings and demands for action from the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) related to the Airport’s PFAS contamination.

The Airport Authority is being sued for, among other issues, PFAS releases into the below-ground water supply.

PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) are a group of man-made chemicals used in making things like firefighting foam, stain repellants, and non-stick cookware.

The lawsuit states Airport Authority is liable for the Airport’s previous and known releases of PFAS-containing firefighting material known as aqueous film-forming foams, or AFFFs, as well as for violations of its National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Permit.

According to a release,

These PFAS releases have impacted nearby properties and the ‘forever chemicals’ have been discovered in residential drinking water wells in neighboring Cascade Charter Township, as well as in streams and other groundwater downgradient of the Airport. The full breadth of the PFAS emanation from the Airport remains unknown.

You can find more from The State of Michigan on how PFAs can affect health here.

The lawsuit cites numerous compliance communications sent from EGLE to the Airport Authority demanding it provide information on its previous uses of AFFFs and the known releases of AFFFs at the Airport. EGLE has also demanded that the Airport Authority address the known PFAS contamination at GRR.

Attorney General Nessel says,

The Airport Authority has had ample opportunity, over several years now, to step up and do the right thing. But as they’ve shown a refusal to accept responsibility for their actions or meaningfully attempt to clean up the messes they have made, we must compel them to act responsibly. Under Michigan law, if you caused the contamination, you must remediate it. We will continue to pursue our claims against the Authority until a satisfactory result is reached that protects the public and the environment.

Nessel is seeking injunctive and declaratory relief, past and future remediation and monitoring costs, and damages for the loss and destruction of natural resources.

According to Fox 17, airport officials  say they are disappointed that the attorney general has decided to take legal action to enforce cleanup. Read their full statement here.

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