Read the full article by Paula Gardner
“PFAS pollution in the Huron River is coming from at least two newly identified sources, creating a fresh round of concerns just as one originator of the contamination is taking a major step toward halting how much of the chemicals it sends into the five-county southeast Michigan watershed.
New state testing for the chemicals in the waters near the site where peak levels were found this summer yielded some surprises: Two additional paths for PFAS in western Oakland County waterways and a reading at the known pollution site that spiked by thousands just weeks after tests showed one form of PFAS at 24 times the amount deemed safe.
Now the state is digging into more investigation into the area of the river west of Kent Lake, north of Ann Arbor, where the chemicals have been found in the city’s drinking water since first tested in 2014.
‘We want to make sure we look we are able to look at any potential significant sources throughout the watershed,’ said Stephanie Kammer of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality during a public meeting in Milford on October 4 that drew a standing room-only crowd.
‘We don’t want to fix it in one area and still have other sources contributing to it.’
The first identified source already is taking action, after it was determined in June that Tribar Manufacturing – operating earlier this year as Adept Plating and Plastics – was sending PFOS at a concentration of 28,000 parts per trillion (ppt) into the Wixom Wastewater Treatment Plant. That treatment center, in turn, discharged it into Norton Creek, which now has the highest readings for the chemical in Michigan.
Tribar Manufacturing today is installing a temporary filtration systemto remove the PFOS – one type of the ‘forever chemical’ linked to cancer and other health conditions – from the wastewater of its Plant 4, one of several of its facilities in Wixom. A permanent solution is planned, company officials said this week, as it moves toward complying with a city order issued September 19.
Yet new state testing results show that the chrome plating factory is now a second source of PFOS in Oakland County’s surface water: Rainfall is creating PFOS-laden stormwater runoff from the property.
Investigators tracking PFAS contamination around the state are looking at public water systems, surface water, school water and places where firefighting foam has been used, among others. So far, stormwater hasn’t been a major issue.
The test in Wixom reached 8,000 ppt – or 666 times what the state allows. Now the state faces looking at how rainfall may be contributing to contamination in lakes and rivers.
‘We don’t have a lot of information on where that’s coming from,’ Kammer said of the Wixom factory where the rain is running through the plant property and pulling the contamination with it as it moves into surface waters…
DEQ officials also were surprised by additional testing between Wixom and Kensington Metropark.
While some large industrial sites – such as a former Ford Motor Company factory and the General Motors Proving Grounds – are not generating significant PFAS readings to date, one long-closed dry cleaners in Milford is – and now it is the third known path of PFAS into the waterway.
Water tests at Pettybone Creek in the village of Milford showed PFOS at 500 ppt, Kammer said. The source, she said, appears to be the contaminated Coe’s Cleaners site that has been under DEQ cleanup control for more than a decade. Monitoring stations of the existing groundwater cleanup showed that the site is discharging treated water with PFOS at 1,000 ppt.
‘This was a surprise to us,’ Kammer said. Dry cleaners aren’t an identified site for PFAS chemical use. In contrast, chrome platers had to use the chemicals as de-misting agents until the types containing PFOS were removed from U.S. production in 2015.
Now the state is doing expedited testing of other areas, including Milford’s wells. So far, Kammer said, there is no indication that the village’s water supply is affected at all. Previous readings showed no PFAS.
Another surprise was a repeated effluent test at the Wixom wastewater treatment plant, which showed a reading of 290 ppt of PFOS. That water goes into Norton Creek, where it flows in the Huron River.
By late August, according to results received late last week, the contaminant was present at 4,800 ppt.”