Read the full article by Garret Ellison

“CASCADE TOWNSHIP, MI — The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality is testing residential drinking water wells for PFAS contamination near a former Lacks Enterprises plating shop site in Cascade Township.

Homes southeast of the Cascade Road and Spaulding Avenue intersection are being contacted as part of the investigation, the DEQ announced Friday, Oct. 19. (map here).

A public meeting about the auto supplier site investigation is scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 30, at the Cascade Township library.

Lacks, the fourth-largest privately-held employer in West Michigan, previously operated a zinc die casting and plating plant at 1601 Galbraith Ave SE. The site is presently a health and fitness complex next to the Watermark Country Club, where Lacks has already been cleaning up a groundwater plume for two decades.

The DEQ says Lacks Industries applied copper, nickel, and chromium plating to auto parts on site between 1963 and 1984, after which the plating equipment was removed from the plant. The site remained in use for plastic production or assembly until 1997.

In plating, PFAS compounds have long been used as a fume suppressant for the chromium baths.

The DEQ found PFOS and PFOA found in monitoring and purge wells above 270 parts-per-trillion (ppt), almost four times above Michigan’s 70-ppt cleanup criteria for those two chemicals in groundwater, a benchmark based on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s health advisory level.

Groundwater contaminated above 70-ppt was found nearly a mile downgradient of the site. The DEQ’s investigation stretches southeast toward the Thornapple River.

The Grand Rapids water department provides service to most of the investigation area, although some homes remain on private wells. Grand Rapids gets its water from Lake Michigan. It has a low, 2-3-ppt PFAS detection.

The DEQ says Lacks will give bottled water to homes if PFOS and PFOA — two of numerous PFAS compounds which are commonly associated with such plumes — are above 70-ppt in the well.

The state is also sampling fish from Walden Lake and Wood Lake within the plume area…

The southeast end of the DEQ investigation area reaches close to a neighborhood of homes along the Thornapple River where Gerald R. Ford Airport was testing a small number of residential wells for PFAS.

The airport says the water in that are is safe, although some homeowners in the area say private tests show PFAS in their wells.”