Wash King Superfund site clean up to be discussed
BALDWIN -- The Pleasant Plains Township Board of Trustees will host a public meeting from 6-8 p.m., Jan. 9, at the Pleasant Plains Township Hall, to discuss proposed clean-up plans for the former Wash King property at 9247 S. M-37 in Baldwin.
Keith Krawczyk, from the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE), will be presenting information regarding proposed clean-up alternatives. The public is being asked for input on the clean-up proposals.
According to information provided by EGLE, clean-up plans range from injecting chemicals into the contaminated areas to change the contaminants to harmless substances; to completely removing contaminants through vapor extraction; to excavating and disposing of all the contaminated soil.
The cost for these projects ranges from $12 million to $69 million, and will take from six months to one year to complete.
One other alternative would be to take no remedial action and allow natural processes to reduce the contaminant concentrations. Under this plan, the groundwater pump and treat (P&T) technology currently underway would need to continue indefinitely. P&T involves extracting groundwater and treating it, then discharging it back into the ground.
This plan would cost nothing, but so far, this treatment has not significantly decreased the contaminant concentration, according to the report from EGLE.
EGLE has recommended In-Situ Thermal Remediation (ISTR) which would involve heating the ground to make the contaminants move more freely, thus allowing a more complete extraction. This process would cost around $16 million and would take six months to complete.
According to the report from EGLE, this process has the "highest probability of success" and would achieve the "greatest contaminant reduction in the shortest time."
This will reduce or eliminate the risk to public health from exposure, the report said.
Additional information on each proposed plan can be found at the Pathfinder Community Library, 812 Michigan Ave, Baldwin.
History of the site
From 1962 until 1991, the now vacant site encompassed the former Wash King Laundry facility, along with four lagoons used to discharge waste from an underground storage tank beneath the laundry facility.
The pipes through which the waste was transported, were found to contain leaks which allowed contaminants from the waste to seep into the surface water and soil.
The contaminants were originally discovered in 1973 through state sampling of residential wells in the area.
In 1978, the owner of the facility agreed to cease all dry cleaning operations and eliminate the source of the contaminants.
In 1991, Wash King Laundry closed down.
In 1982, the contaminated area was designated a Superfund site by the EPA, because of the scope and expense of the clean up.
Since 1998, several clean up actions have been taken, including demolition of the laundry facility building and underground storage tank and installation of the P&T system and a soil vapor extraction system.
In 2010, in-situ bioremediation began, which involves using microorganisms for decontamination.
According to the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency website, the danger to human exposure of contaminants is under control and migration of contaminated groundwater is stabilized with no unacceptable discharge to surface water.
The site continues to undergo testing, maintenance and full clean up efforts in order for the land to be commercially viable.
Current controls by the EPA limit the use of the site until it is completely cleaned up, and current deed restrictions in the area prevent use of the land for any purpose.
Local economic leaders agree the site could be a boon to local business if and when they are successful in cleaning it up.