Documentary Interviews the Sick and Dying as a Result of the Military’s Use of PFAS at Wurtsmuth AFB, Michigan
Pat Elder / Military Poisons
MICHIGAN (April 16, 2021) — “No Defense” is an award-winning documentary, not yet released for distribution, about PFAS contamination at the former Wurtsmith Air Force Base in Oscoda, Michigan. The people are sick and this documentary makes this clear. The waters are severely contaminated, and some fish have nearly 10 million parts per trillion of PFAS.
The Air Force is thumbing its nose at the folks in Oscoda and the region. Michigan has passed laws regulating PFAS in waterways but the Air Force says they are not bound by state regulations. The suffering and the dying interviewed in this film have a different view.
This one-hour documentary has won five film awards (www.nodefensedoc.com).
At this point, individuals in Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Maine can see the award-winning documentary film — No Defense — for free, anytime between April 16th and 25th. Other areas of the country will also be provided the opportunity to see the film.
Special thanks to the Vermont International Film Festival (VTIFF) and WILPF Burlington Branch for making this possible.
- More than 650 towns contaminated.
- Millions of Americans affected.
- The largest-known polluter of chemicals that are nearly indestructible…is also the regulator that has failed to act.
- The award-winning documentary, No Defense, holds the military accountable, exposing their role in the contamination of our ecosystems with PFAS, a forever chemical.
For decades, it’s been documented that PFAS, known as forever chemicals, are harmful to life. Yet our military continues to use them at hundreds of sites across the country, contaminating ground water, drinking water, rivers and lakes, fish, and wildlife. The documentary, by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Sara Ganim, is one of the first to focus on the military’s use of PFAS. The film will be available for viewing in VT, MA, NH, & ME starting today, April 16.
There are two parts to participating in viewing No Defense.
First, you will need to register to see the film. Click on https://bit.ly/3rKkOwn and then proceed to order a ticket for the film. You can make a donation which will be split between the filmmakers and WILPF Burlington and the Vermont International Film Festival or enter “no thanks” to attend for free. You’ll be emailed directions on how to view the film between 4/16-4/25 and to participate in the discussion.
Second, you are invited to participate in a one-hour, film discussion after you’ve viewed No Defense. Mark your calendars for Earth Day, Thursday, April 22nd at 8 PM (EDT). You can register for this zoom discussion at: http://bit.ly/3bJHtnS
The discussion will be led by Anthony Spaniola of Need Our Water (NOW), Marguerite Adelman of WILPF Burlington, and Nancy Price of Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom’s (WILPF) Earth Democracy Committee. Anthony Spaniola served as a consultant to the film and was also featured in it.
The film and discussion are hosted by Military Poisons (www.militarypoisons.org), WILPF Burlington, VT Military Poisons Coalition, as well as the WILPF US Earth Democracy Issue Committee.
Military Poisons, 17841 Rosecroft Rd., Lexington Park, MD 20653
PFAS Documentary about US Military’s ‘War on Water’ to Debut in Ann Arbor
ANN ARBOR (February 18, 2020) — “No Defense” is a film about Michigan’s longest-known site with PFAS pollution, the former Wurtsmith Air Force Base in Oscoda. It’s about a community that’s waited years for cleanup, and the people affected — “people who are suffering, who are blowing the whistle, and who are fighting the United States military’s war on water,” the film description states.
The documentary, directed by Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist Sara Ganim, had its debut at the Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor on February 19. The one-night-only showing was followed by a panel discussion with the filmmakers and film subjects.
“This documentary tells the story of the Americans who are fighting against one of the largest-known polluters in the country — the United States military,” the description states.
“For decades, it’s been documented that a category of chemicals known as PFAS are harmful to life, yet the military continues to mandate its use at hundreds of sites across the country, contaminating surface water and drinking water.”
The film is produced by Emmy-award-winning journalist Lennart Bourin, with Robert P. Ufer as executive producer.
Ganim said she’s calling Wednesday’s screening a “preview” because the film is still going through final editing. Her team started shooting it less than four months ago, she said. They’re unveiling a draft of the film Wednesday as a prelude to a PFAS symposium at UM the next day.
The film features several people, including Oscoda families and veterans affected by the pollution, experts and Oscoda Township supervisor Aaron Weed, Ganim said. “We really wanted to tell the stories of veterans who obviously were affected,” she said.
Representatives from the US Environmental Protection Agency and the Air Force — the polluter, which contaminated the area by using chemical-based firefighting foam at Wurtsmith — declined to be interviewed for the film but provided written statements, Ganim said.
The facts about what has happened in Oscoda are not really in dispute, but the feds are saying it could take several more years of study before cleanup, Ganim said.
The state discovered widespread PFAS contamination at Wurtsmith in 2010. Academic researchers first found the compounds at a former firefighting area on base in the late 1990s. Activists are upset the Air Force has been able to delay implementing widespread cleanup for so long.
There are two pump-and-treat systems that filter contaminated water though granular activated carbon (GAC), but there’s been disagreement between the Air Force, the state and local officials about how much of the plumes those systems are actually capturing, MLive reported last July.
Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson told US Sen. Gary Peters, D-Michigan, last year the Air Force “remains proactive in remediation efforts consistent with federal law.”
The film raises the question of whether there’s a conflict of interest with the regulator and the polluter both being the US government, Ganim said, adding she made the film in hopes of raising awareness about the problem and people affected.
“It is widespread and there is a major issue stemming back to our United States government, and that’s the same entity that’s lagging on regulating these chemicals,” she said. “So when you put these two facts together, it really paints a picture why all of us are dealing with outdated drinking water laws.”
People who live around Wurtsmith are still being affected by plumes leaching from the site and there’s a lack of urgency from government officials to address it, Ganim said.
People have been exposed through both drinking water and surface water, and consumption of fish and wild game, she said, adding there are people whose lake is polluted and they don’t want their kids to swim in it now, and there are unknown effects from foam washing ashore.
Ann Arbor, which also is dealing with PFAS pollution in its drinking water, is promoting Wednesday night’s documentary screening through the city’s A2Zero website.
The University of Michigan School of Public Health website lists UM’s Michigan Center on Lifestage Environmental Exposures and Disease as one of the sponsors.