Read the full article by Malachi Barrett

“PARCHMENT, MI — A company formerly associated with paper manufacturing in Parchment will assist the state in determining how the area became contaminated with PFAS.

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality announced Monday that Georgia-Pacific LLC will voluntarily aid efforts to identify the source of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances that contaminated the city of Parchment’s water supply and private wells in Cooper Township. Extremely high levels of the toxic chemicals, historically used to coat specialty papers, were found at a capped landfill formerly used by Parchment paper mills.

Georgia-Pacific operated its Epic manufacturing plant in Parchment until the end of 2015, producing food wraps and other items for the food industry. The plant was the last use of property originally used by the Kalamazoo Vegetable Parchment Co., which was at various times owned by owned at Brown Co., James River Corp., Fort James Corp. finally Crown Vantage Paper Co.

Crown Vantage declared bankruptcy and shuttered most of the complex in 2000. The same year, the Fort James Corporation was acquired by Georgia-Pacific for $11 billion.

A perfluoroalkyl polymer was a main ingredient in oil and grease-repellents used in laminated paper products produced by Fort James Corp in the 1990s. The repellant was patented by Minnesota manufacturing giant 3M and discontinued when 3M began phasing out products based on PFOS in 2000.

Georgia-Pacific’s plant was in part of the complex purchased from Fort James in 2000.

Samples collected from the nearby landfill revealed one spot contained 11,500 parts per trillion of perfluorooctanoic acid, or PFOA, and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid, or PFOS. The compounds are among a larger collection of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances collectively called PFAS.

Parties known to have responsibility for contamination are required to conduct cleanup activities unless they are financially insolvent. An Oct. 1 press release states Georgia-Pacific never owned or operated the paper mill that is suspected to be a source of the contamination…

David Harn, MDEQ Project Manager said Georgia-Pacific contacted the state after learning about PFAS contamination in Parchment…

Georgia-Pacific has voluntarily agreed to do the following, at its own expense, under the MDEQ’s supervision:

  • Develop a work plan, with the MDEQ’s assistance, that identifies monitoring well locations and depths, sampling procedures and analytical methodology.
  • Install monitoring wells in accordance with the work plan.
  • Measure water levels in the monitoring wells.
  • Collect and analyze groundwater samples in accordance with the work plan.
  • Provide all data to the MDEQ along with tables and figures to summarize results.
  • Install additional monitoring wells and collect additional groundwater samples as needed to understand and define the extent of contamination as well as the sources of PFAS impacting private and public water supplies.
  • Provide the MDEQ with a report on the information obtained through the work plan.”