Injections into Soil Part of Remediation Plans for Contaminated Site in Madison Hts

Injections into Soil Part of Remediation Plans for EPS Contamination Site in Madison Hts

(Crystal A. Proxmire, Aug. 13, 2020)

Madison Heights, MI- After months of testing and evaluation, details of plans for the contaminated Electro-Plating Services property on E. 10 Mile Road. in Madison Heights have been shared.

In a community update meeting via Zoom, representatives of the City of Madison Heights, Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE), and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) gave an update about the efforts to clean up the site of Electro-Plating Services which infamously leaked “green slime” onto the I-696 freeway in late December 2019.

Since the “green slime” first appeared, officials have been working to understand the extent of the chemical contamination in the soil and groundwater, and to come up with a plan to fix it.

The challenge, officials explained, comes in finding a solution that is effective but not cost-prohibitive.  They stressed that the long-term goal is demolition of the building and complete remediation of the site, with the next steps being to help contain the contamination that is there and to treat the storm water that moves through the soil so that it doesn’t enter the storm water drains with contamination in it.

Tricia Edwards of the EPA explained the investigative results and the plan.

She explained the soil currently has multiple contaminants including PFAS, PFOS, and cyanide.  But of most concern and prevalence is Hexavalient Chromium Trichloroethylene, which is a chemical used in plating.

The solution is to inject “reagents” into the soil around the property as well as to introduce them to areas in the building and drains.  Reagents react with the chemicals, changing them into less harmful chemicals.  In the case of chemical oxidation, for example, the reagent is iron-based and it works by essentially “rusting” the offending chemicals.

A slide explained:

“A Permeable Reactive Barrier (PRB) is an In-Situ treatment zone established within a contaminated groundwater unit through the application of reactive products.

“The reactive materials interact with the plume of contaminants as it passively migrates through the PRB, removing or degrading contaminants with treated groundwater migrating out of the PRB.

“The primary removal mechanisms include:  absorption and precipitation, chemical reaction, and biological oxidation or reduction, depending on the target contaminants.”

Without reagents or other protective measures, rainwater would continue to collect contamination as it flowed through the soil before spreading further into lakes and rivers.

Thus far there have been 318,045 gallons of contaminated groundwater collected and 307,576 gallons hauled offsite.  Sewer lines in the area were inspected with video and re-lined with cured in place piping to prevent further corrosion. Two utility access covers were replaced, and a frac tank was removed.

The effort also included the use of an interceptor trench, a basement sump pump, a sump pump for the freeway embankment, and a bypass system for the drains.

Tests were run to gauge the effectiveness of injections at the site.  With that data, the EPA was able to design an injection plan best suited to that property.

The first round of injections will take place in early September.  The EPA will maintain operation on the site for ongoing pumping and hauling of storm water until the soil is clean enough for the site to safely filter the water that passes through it.

Edwards said the pumping and hauling activities are expected to wrap up at the end of the year if the land is ready.  When the EPA ceases operations on the site, it will be turned over to EGLE to manage the cleanup moving forward.

The operation has cost $2 million thus far, with an estimated $2 million more in cost, plus $48,000 annually to monitor the groundwater, and the cost of fresh injections every 3-5 years which currently cost $45,300.

The system is expected to work until the building is demolished, at which time further efforts could be made for removing the contaminated soil.  The cost of the current cleanup is being covered primarily by the EPA.

Edwards also reported that the contamination “hasn’t spread far beyond the building.”  She also reminded participants that the contaminated groundwater is separate from the drinking water supply and water from faucets in spigots.  Water being delivered to homes and businesses is pumped in from the Detroit River.

“From my first meeting with EGLE and EPA in December, I knew we were in good hands,” said Madison Heights Mayor Roslyn Grafstein.  “Traci  Kecskemeti and Tricia Edwards did an excellent job allaying any fears I had regarding the soil and drinking water in our community. While I am glad this is finally being addressed and cleaned up, it never should have gotten to this point. Along with the complete removal and remediation at this site, I would like to see procedures in place at all levels of government so that no other community has to go through what we did in the winter.”

The City of Madison Heights has ongoing information about the EPS site at https://www.madison-heights.org/729/6308/EPS-Site-Information

Also visit https://www.epa.gov/mi/electro-plating-services-i696-release-site

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