Read the full article by Malachi Barrett

“PARCHMENT, MI — Extremely high levels of toxic fluorochemicals once used to coat specialty papers produced were found at a capped landfill formerly used by paper mills in Parchment.

Michigan Department of Environmental Quality spokesperson Scott Dean said Thursday, Sept. 6, that tests revealed one spot contained 11,500 parts per trillion of perfluorooctanoic acid, or PFOA, and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid, or PFOS…

The former landfill, located in Cooper Township, is suspected to have caused high levels of contamination in nearby groundwater wells and Parchment’s municipal drinking water system. People connected to Parchment’s water system were provided bottled water for nearly a month before being told to drink from the tap again on Aug. 27.

Health officials link exposure to PFOS and PFOA to pregnancy-induced hypertension, liver damage, increased risk of thyroid disease, cancer and other issues…

Parchment, the ‘Paper City,’ was built around paper companies which manufactured products for the food industry. Crown Vantage Paper Co. was the last manufacturer to inhabit the mill site in Parchment…

Crown Vantage filed for bankruptcy in 2000. As part of the process of abandoning the landfill and mill site, the company had to prove that the property didn’t represent an ‘imminent and identifiable hazard’ to public health and safety.

A federal court in California found Crown Vantage met this standard, and the bankruptcy was approved in 2001. However, court documents showed soil and groundwater contamination from a solvent used in coating processes.

A 2001 DEQ consent order allowing Crown Vantage to vacate the mill and landfill, required all documents related to monitoring waste at the landfill to DEQ. Sorensen said the DEQ capped the landfill soon after.

‘Excuse me for not having a lot of faith in the DEQ at this moment,’ he said. ‘The landfill (was) capped under the purview of the DEQ and they said what was in there is OK.’

MDEQ and state health officials will attend a 7 p.m. Sept. 10, Cooper Township board meeting. Dean said the next step will be to identify any former owner who can be held responsible for the contamination.

‘Who is there to go after?’ Sorensen said. ‘The biggest thing I want to start working on is how do we remediate (the contamination) and contain it. I’m more concerned about protecting public health than using someone I will never get a dime out of.’ …

The state health department is planning exposure assessment study will research possible health impacts on residents. A similar study announced earlier this month will focus on Kent County residents exposed to PFAS in their drinking water.”