THE FIRST PFAS CONTAMINATED SITE in Shiawassee County has been identified at 1232 W. Main St., Owosso – the former Partz Corporation property.

(Independent Photo/Karen Mead-Elford)

 

  The former Partz Corporation property located at 1232 W. Main St. in Owosso was destroyed by fire in 1992, causing fluids to leak from roughly 24 plating tanks used at the facility. The DEQ (now EGLE*) cleaned up the property in 1993, followed by the U.S. EPA, which came in to remove hazardous materials/debris and sludge. The property remained vacant until it was purchased in 2018 by a local resident.** The issue was revealed at the end of September, after three groundwater samples had been collected on Thursday, Sept. 5 via newly installed monitoring wells, showing that two of the samples collected are contaminated with substances identified as PFAS (Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances). PFAS, sometimes referenced as the constituent or compound chemicals, PFOS or PFOA, are a family of over 5,000 manmade chemicals that have been manufactured in the U.S. since the 1940s. Hundreds of state and national news stories have highlighted evidence linked to disconcerting health effects, including cancer, thyroid and immune system issues – for those interested in reading further on that aspect of PFAS contamination.***

   It should be noted that according to EGLE Project Manager Eric Van Riper, the state also tested for metals, VOCs (volatile organic compounds like formaldehyde) and chromium – finding an elevated chromium level, as well.

   According to information provided through the state, the Shiawassee River flows approximately 850 feet to the northwest of the contaminated location. A closed storm water drainage system called the Chipman Drain, crosses through the site to discharge into the river – the river heads generally north from that point. It is not yet known if PFAS has entered the Chipman Drain or the Shiawassee River. The Owosso sanitary sewer system also cuts through the property. Groundwater from the site flows northward toward the Shiawassee River, too.

   Late in September, EGLE notified the Shiawassee County Health Department and on Monday, Oct. 4 the city of Owosso was notified, as well. EGLE continues to work with Mannik Smith Group, which collected the first three samples, to investigate the extent of the PFAS contamination, including any risk to the Chipman Drain, the sanitary sewer system or the Shiawassee River. EGLE has actively pursued open communication with the health department, the city of Owosso, the drain commission and the Friends of the Shiawassee River – to keep the organizations in the loop of the investigative process.

   The two PFAS samples tested above the federal 70-ppt (parts-per-trillion) advisory level, with the highest at 449-ppt for PFOS and PFOA combined, according to the state. The location of the wells is separate from the municipal drinking water system. Information related to testing done on all municipal water supplies for PFAS is available through the city of Owosso, pursuant to information provided through the state. PFAS has not been found in the city of Owosso drinking water system.

   EGLE continues to work with Mannik Smith Group to determine the extent of the PFAS contamination in the area of northwest Owosso. Van Riper has shared that it is the current goal to define the extent of the PFAS contamination with the plan to now sample the drain and the sewer system to “evaluate whether groundwater is infiltrating into those systems.” If so, then sampling will be done on the river. He expects that sampling will be completed by the end of November.

   As stated, EGLE has provided information to the Shiawassee Environmental Health Division of the Shiawassee Health Department. Individuals with related questions can call (989) 743-2390 for further information. Casey Elliott is the Shiawassee County Director of Environmental Health.

*The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy

**It is the policy of the Independent not to identify the resident until he has been appropriately contacted.

***Information on PFAS contamination was published in the Independent in April when world leading PFAS resource Tony Spaniola spoke during the Shiawassee Dems Pasta & Politics event and can be found at www.owossoindependent.com.

Note: Only PFOS and PFOA are currently regulated in the state. Regarding drinking water standards, according to a press release through Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in mid-October, EGLE is “moving forward with formal rule making limits for certain PFAS compounds…” If adopted, those compounds will include: PFOA (8-ppt); PFOS (16-ppt); PFNA (6-ppt); PFHxS (51-ppt); GenX (370-ppt); PFBS (420-ppt); PFHxA (400,000-ppt). More on PFAS is available at Michigan.gov/PFASResponse. Also if adopted, the Michigan PFAS drinking water rules would replace the 70-ppt groundwater cleanup for PFOS/PFOA.

PFAS Contaminated Site Identified in Northwest Owosso – was last modified: November 12th, 2019 by Karen Elford