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Michigan PFAS Action Response Team adds White Pigeon Paper Company as a PFAS site


The Michigan PFAS Action Response Team (MPART) Wednesday updated officials from St. Joseph County and White Pigeon Township on their investigation of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) contamination around the former White Pigeon Paper Company. This site will be added to the MPART web page because results of a groundwater monitoring well exceeded the groundwater cleanup criteria.

MPART representatives from the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services worked with the Branch-Hillsdale-St. Joseph Community Health Agency to test 19 residential drinking water wells within White Pigeon Township ending in March of this year.

Three of these drinking water wells tested equal to or in excess of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s lifetime health advisory of 70 ppt for PFOA + PFOS. Bottled water has been distributed to those three houses until point of use filters can be installed.  Point of use filters also will be offered to any resident in the study area where PFAS has been detected in their well water at any concentration.

The Village of White Pigeon municipal water supply was tested for PFAS on Sept. 26, 2018. Test results showed no PFAS was found in the water.

MPART will expand its study area to the east to include 14 additional residences. Letters will be sent to homeowners in early April in the expanded study area and bottled water and filtered water pitchers will be offered until these homes can be tested. Since all residential drinking water well testing performed by EGLE’s contractor has been suspended due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the letter also will offer home testing kits to provide residents located inside the study area with the opportunity to collect their own water sample at no cost.

The groundwater from 16 of the monitoring wells tested at the White Pigeon Paper Company was found to contain PFAS at concentrations exceeding the groundwater criteria.  The highest on-site perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) + perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) concentration detected in groundwater was 15,400 parts per trillion (ppt), which exceeds the groundwater criterion of 70 ppt for PFOA + PFOS.  Based on these results, the facility at 15781 River St. will be listed as a site on the Michigan PFAS Action Response Team’s website as of today.

PFAS are a large group of man-made chemicals that have been used in many consumer and industrial products, such as non-stick cookware, waterproof fabrics and firefighting foam.