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Michigan to test water near combat center for contamination

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ALPENA, Mich. (AP) — The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality will soon begin testing about 150 residential water wells near a combat training center for possible contamination.

The department and the Michigan National Guard released information at a public meeting Wednesday on the newly discovered perfluorinated chemicals at Alpena’s Combat Readiness Training Center. Officials updated residents on how testing will be done and what measures they’ll take if they find high levels of the chemicals in wells.

The agency detected perfluorinated chemicals at five wells on the base, said David Lindsay, senior geologist with the department. But as of now it’s not known if the contamination is confined to the base or if a plume has moved beyond it.

Lindsay encouraged people who have wells within a one-mile radius of the base to sign up for testing because it can’t be conducted without consent. He said it will take about six weeks after testing to receive results. Anyone who has drinking water that detects perfluorinated chemicals will be provided bottled water or a faucet filter.

District Health Department Officer Denise Bryan said the goal is to protect people and animals.

“This is a journey that won’t be over in a few short months,” she said. “We will be methodical and take action based on facts, but still be sensitive to the human side of the story. Our goal is to protect people.”

The chemicals are linked to a type of foam used to extinguish fires.

The contamination in Alpena is similar to contamination detected at military bases in Grayling and Oscoda.

Testing is expected to begin in November.

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