Read the full article by Malachi Barrett

“PARCHMENT, MI — Georgia-Pacific representatives said paper products created Parchment until 2015 was known to contain PFAS, but the company is not currently linked to contamination of municipal groundwater there.

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality is working with the company to determine the source of perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, known as PFAS, found in Parchment’s water supply and private wells in Cooper Township. Georgia-Pacific operated a plant in Parchment from 2000-15 after purchasing the facility from a manufacturer known to use PFAS in Parchment.

Spokesperson Karen Cole said the company contacted MDEQ on Sept. 7 after learning about contamination in Parchment through media reports. Georgia-Pacific volunteered to expand testing, install new monitoring wells and assist the state in conducting a hydrogeological study.

‘We have facilities all around the country … we care about the people who live there,’ Cole said. ‘We understand and respect that this is a big concern in Parchment and people want answers and want to know what’s in their drinking water.’ …

The Georgia-Pacific plant converted paper into a variety of food service products such as food wraps, pan liners and baking cups. Georgia-Pacific spokesperson Gail Smith said some of the paper grades used there contained PFAS, but they were applied where the paper was made, not at the Epic plant.

‘The Epic plant did not make paper on-site,’ Smith said. ‘It converted paper it bought from a third-party into various food service products, so the major byproduct of that converting process was converting trim.’

There would not have been a ‘significant amount’ of manufacturing waste produced at the Epic plant, she said. Wastewater was discharged into Parchment’s water treatment system and solid waste was recycled or disposed in an off-site landfill through an unidentified third-party.

A landfill once used by Georgia-Pacific in Charleston Township was found to be discharging 261 parts per trillion of PFOS and PFOA into the city of Kalamazoo’s wastewater system.

Extremely high levels of the toxic chemicals, historically used to coat specialty papers, were found at a capped landfill owned by Crown Vantage. Smith said ‘there is no direct link’ between contamination of Parchment’s municipal wells and the former landfill.

The MDEQ has said the Crown Vantage is a likely source of contamination.

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.

The former paper mill property and landfill may not be the only sources of PFAS in the area, according to the release. The MDEQ continues to investigate potential sources.”