Poisoned Michigan

PFAS chemicals commonly used in household and industrial products increasingly are contaminating waters in Michigan and nationwide. From ignored warnings to costly cleanups, the chemical crisis parallels that of the PBB poisoning of Michigan cattle in the 1970s. Bridge examines how the lessons from that catastrophe could have averted the PFAS crisis and what can be done to prevent the next one.

Full Coverage

Poisoned Michigan: How weak laws and ignored history enabled PFAS crisis

Poisoned Michigan: How weak laws and ignored history enabled PFAS crisis

Nov 18, 2019 | Riley Beggin, Jim Malewitz

Michigan lawmakers said ‘never again’ after an agricultural mishap sparked one of the worst poisonings in history in 1973. But serious reform never came and some mistakes of that crisis are being repeated with the PFAS threat befouling state waterways.

 In a Michigan town with a toxic legacy, residents fought for decades to heal

In a Michigan town with a toxic legacy, residents fought for decades to heal

Nov 18, 2019 | Riley Beggin, Jim Malewitz

In the town of St. Louis, a  group of rabble-rousers ensured state and federal authorities didn’t forget their toxic legacy. The work is only half done, but could be a lesson for communities now battling PFAS contamination.

Michigan’s PFAS cleanup costs are mounting. Taxpayers may get stuck with the tab.

Michigan’s PFAS cleanup costs are mounting. Taxpayers may get stuck with the tab.

Nov 18, 2019 | Riley Beggin

When a chemical disaster strikes – as it did in the tiny town of St. Louis – bills mount far faster than polluters’ willingness to pay. It’s a lesson survivors of the crisis fear will repeat with PFAS, which Michigan already has spent tens of millions to address.

Michigan found PFAS in Oscoda in 2010. There’s still no plan to clean it up.

Michigan found PFAS in Oscoda in 2010. There’s still no plan to clean it up.

Nov 18, 2019 | Jim Malewitz

An ignored 2010 report about PFAS is just one of several bureaucratic hurdles that has slowed Michigan’s response to the chemical that is now befouling waters. The delays are reminiscent of those that prolonged the PBB contamination of livestock in the 1970s.

Letter suggests Bill Schuette shrugged off request to sue 3M over PFAS

Letter suggests Bill Schuette shrugged off request to sue 3M over PFAS

Nov 18, 2019 | Jim Malewitz, Riley Beggin

As he left office, the former attorney general told Rick Snyder he couldn’t sue because the governor’s staff never greenlighted a lawsuit — even though Snyder himself requested the suit.

Graphic photos vivid reminders of horror of Michigan PBB chemical crisis

Graphic photos vivid reminders of horror of Michigan PBB chemical crisis

Nov 18, 2019 | Riley Beggin

This slideshow shows how a 1973 mixup at a chemical company in St. Louis sparked an agricultural and health disaster statewide that still affects residents. Warning: Some photos may be upsetting.