West Michigan businesses are adapting their strategies to help address the unexpected rise of PFAS contamination as an issue, albeit mostly in measured steps as the quickly changing scenario continues to play out. But regardless of how they are reacting to doing business in the era of intense public scrutiny around PFAS, companies involved in everything from analytical testing to litigation expect the issue to remain front and center for the foreseeable future.
When Nick Hrnyak looks out from his corporate office on Cascade Road, he can survey a property that is contaminated from decades of electroplating wastes, including nickel, chromium, copper, boron and now PFAS, the persistent and pervasive family of chemicals that is alarming the nation. In his immediate sight are an attractive office and golf course complex that includes a gymnastics center and church. Just down the road on the same contaminated site are neighborhoods with some of the most expensive homes in Kent County, three small lakes and Schoolhouse Creek, a tributary to the Thornapple River.
The practice of environmental law in the United States has evolved to better define who is liable for contamination cleanups. That’s according to veteran environmental lawyer Alan Schwartz, a member of Grand Rapids-based Miller, Johnson, Snell & Cummiskey PLC.
Michigan needs to buckle up for a long, long ride on the PFAS rollercoaster. If history is any guide, coming up with workable solutions to PFAS contamination around the state is going to take decades of painstaking work, billions of dollars and many awkward dances of cooperation between companies, government agencies and citizens groups.
The city of Grand Rapids is interested in collaborating with a Lansing scientist who has developed a process that he says can destroy PFAS pollution in drinking water and wastewater, a hot-button issue locally and statewide.