Robinson Elementary School

MDEQ and MDHHS Town Hall Meeting Presentation, February 8, 2019 

Project History:

120th Avenue PFAS Study Area for Robinson Elementary SchoolAs part of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) statewide public water supply sampling program, Robinson Elementary School in Grand Haven, Ottawa county, was sampled on September 18, 2018. 

On October 29, 2018, MDEQ drinking water staff received the results from the September 18 sampling, showing Robinson Elementary School’s drinking water tested over 70 parts per trillion (ppt) for PFOS + PFOA. Results were:        

PFOS + PFOA = 110 ppt
   PFOA = 9 ppt
   PFOS = 101 ppt
PFBS = 14 ppt
PFHxS = 20 ppt
Total PFAS (all of the above) = 144 ppt

The MDEQ immediately informed the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS), the Ottawa County Department of Public Health (OCDPH) and the Governor’s Office, and within hours had a call set up to discuss with officials from the OCDPH, Robinson Township, and Grand Haven Area Public Schools.  School leaders at Robinson Elementary School shared the information within the school and the school stopped using their well water and began using bottled water for drinking and cooking.  Ottawa county officials also immediately began planning to get a longer-term supply of bottled water to the school. 

By late afternoon, the MDEQ’s contractor, AECOM, had collected a second (confirmation) sample at the school, as well as a sample from a nearby fire station and a day care facility adjacent to the school. The MDEQ expedited the results; results were expected on Wednesday, October 31 and arrived as expected. Results from Robinson Elementary School were:

PFOS + PFOA = 119 ppt
   PFOA = 13 ppt
   PFOS = 106 ppt
PFBS = 29 ppt
PFHxS = 23 ppt
Total PFAS (all of the above) = 171 ppt

Before school was out for the day, Grand Haven Area Public Schools Superintendent Andrew Ingall had developed a letter to send home with children. In addition, MDEQ had already begun investigating historic records for potential sources in the area. MDEQ also partnered with the Michigan Geological Survey to obtain information on groundwater flow direction in the area.  All of this information will be used to determine next steps for the investigation.

The rest of the school district uses water that comes from the Northwest Ottawa Water System, which was also sampled on September 18, 2018.  The results for this system were non-detect for PFOS + PFOA, and non-detect for Total PFAS, in both the untreated water and the treated drinking water.

Phase I Sampling

On November 2 and 5, 2018, the MDEQ collected samples at 29 locations, including about 23 residential wells, the school irrigation well, the Robinson Township Park irrigation well, adjacent daycare, the township hall/fire department, and the wellhead at the school (to rule out internal plumbing as a potential source). Testing results as of November 27, 2018 are as follows:

Phase I Sampling Results
Type of Result Total Wells Sampled
PFOS+PFOA > 70 ppt 2
PFOS+PFOA Detected 12
PFOS+PFOA Not Detected 17
Total PFAS > 100 ppt 4
PFAS Detected 14
PFAS Not Detected 15


At the 29 locations sampled during Phase I, two (2) locations had levels of PFOS + PFOA at levels above the 70 ppt lifetime health advisory: Robinson Elementary School and one residential home. 

MDEQ sampled the daycare adjacent to Robinson Elementary School on October 29 and November 2, 2018.  Results for the daycare show that drinking water tested below 70 parts per trillion (ppt) for PFOS + PFOA during both sampling events. Results were:

Sampled 10/29/18 Sampled 11/2/18
PFOS + PFOA = 4 ppt PFOS + PFOA = Not Detected
   PFOA = Not Detected    PFOA = Not Detected
   PFOS = 4 ppt    PFOS = Not Detected
PFBS = 17 ppt PFBS = 14 ppt
PHxS = 11 ppt PHxS = 9 ppt
Total PFAS (all of the above) = 32 ppt Total PFAS (all of the above) = 23 ppt


Phase II Sampling:

In response to the Phase I sampling results, MDEQ conducted a Phase II sampling event in the area.  The figure on this page depicts both the Phase I and Phase II sample areas  For the Phase II sampling event, MDEQ  sampled approximately 37 wells beginning on November 30, 2018.  Results  for the Phase II sampling are as follows:

Phase II Sampling Results
Type of Result Total Wells Sampled
PFOS+PFOA > 70 ppt 0
PFOS+PFOA Detected 13
PFOS+PFOA Not Detected 24
Total PFAS > 100 ppt 1
PFAS Detected 20
PFAS Not Detected 17

In January 2019, the MDEQ will begin a hydrogeologic investigation in an effort to better understand the source and distribution of PFAS in this area.  Potential sources in the area include the use of firefighting foam, undocumented dump sites, potential biosolid application in the area, and materials from a nearby highway construction project.  The investigation will be conducted in a phased approach and will involve determining the groundwater flow direction and collecting soil and groundwater samples.  The MDEQ will share investigation data with project stakeholders including the State and local health departments and will continue to update this website as new information becomes available.   

Communication on actions related to this site are placed on the MPART web site and a web page set up by Ottawa County.