“BELMONT, MI — The owner of a golf course built atop acres of Wolverine World Wide tannery waste says he’s being unfairly targeted by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, which is forcing his company to provide safe water to nearby properties with per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, in their drinking water.
Andrew Dykema, owner of the Boulder Creek golf course in Plainfield Township, said it’s ‘not my fault’ that PFAS contamination from toxic industrial waste dumped there in the 1970s is leaching from underneath the course, which used to be a gravel pit and landfill…
‘I didn’t know there was any contaminated material there,’ he said. ‘If (the DEQ) knew about contaminated material there, why did they wait 20 years to do anything about it?’…
Dykema spoke by phone with MLive on Friday, June 29 — a few hours after the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services issued a ‘do not eat‘ warning for fish at three Boulder Creek ponds due to high PFAS levels found in water sampling.
The advisory follows a June 19 letter DEQ sent to Boulder Creek Development Company stating that high PFAS levels were found in monitoring wells at the golf course and nearby residential wells along Cannonsburg Road also tested positive for contamination.
The DEQ is providing bottled water to those properties.
PFAS contaminants were in Wolverine waste, which the company dumped at the Northeast Gravel mine landfill daily between 1970 and 1979. The gravel pit was a major sludge dump for the Wolverine tannery in Rockford after the closure of the House Street dump in Belmont — the rediscovery of which last year kicked-off areawide PFAS testing and many pending lawsuits.
In the letter, DEQ remediation division district supervisor Abigail Hendershott wrote that Boulder Creek is liable for contamination that occurred before the golf course was built in the 1990s because a Baseline Environmental Assessment, or BEA, was never conducted before Northeast Gravel sold the property to Boulder Creek.
Michigan’s Part 201 environmental cleanup law allows contaminated property buyers to escape liability if they conduct a BEA and give it to the DEQ within 45 days. Under state law, liable property owners must take steps to investigate and cleanup the contamination.
Although the golf course is a closed site, the DEQ says provisions in past agreements allow resumption of investigation because PFAS was unknown as a contaminant when cleanup was completed and the gravel pit and landfill was redeveloped.
The DEQ wants an investigation work plan from Boulder Creek by July 18 and has asked the golf course to provide safe water to nearby properties in the meantime.
The DEQ says it first asked Boulder Creek to investigate contamination in February. PFAS in monitoring wells at the course tested at 141 parts-per-trillion (ppt), which is above the state’s new PFOS/PFOA standard of 70-ppt for groundwater that people drink.
One Boulder Creek pond tested at 2,760-ppt for PFOS.”
Read the full article by Garret Ellison