Helmer and Dickman Road Area, Battle Creek, Calhoun County

Updated: February 14, 2019

Aerial Map of Helmer and Dickman Road Area, Battle Creek, Calhoun CountyBackground

The Helmer-Dickman Road Area is located around the Michigan Air National Guard base in Springfield/Battle Creek. Residential and commercial properties surround the military base to the north, east, and south, with the Fort Custer Industrial Park located to the west. This area came to the attention of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) in January 2018 due to its long continuous operations as a military base and likely use of aqueous film forming foam (AFFF).

Recent Accomplishments

  • From October 29-31, 2018, fish were harvested from the Beaver Dam Pond, the Elks Lodge Pond, and the Greene Pond within the Helmer-Dickman Road Area. Analytical results from the Beaver Dam Pond study are pending and anticipated in mid to late February. Fish collected from the other two private ponds will be submitted to the lab as well.
  • On December 20, 2018, the MDEQ collected 9 surface water samples along Helmer Creek and the Kalamazoo River. Analytical results are anticipated in mid to late January 2019.

Next Steps

  • The MDEQ will follow up on sampling requests for residential well testing.
  • The MDEQ will evaluate results from the fish study and surface water sampling event when they become available.
  • The MDEQ is currently evaluating next steps.

Residential Well Testing/Alternate Water Information

  • 25 households have been provided filters by the Calhoun County Health Department.
  • 8 households are being provided bottled water by the Calhoun County Health Department.
  • All residential well testing reflected on this report has been conducted by the MDEQ.

Upcoming Community Engagement

None scheduled at this time.

Sampling: PFOS and PFOA Only

Type of Sample

Date Sampled

# of Samples

# of Results Received

# of Non-detects

# Between Non-detect and standard*

# > Standard

Drinking Water (Residential,
Type I & II)
Apr 17, 2018 -
present
75* 75* 50 23 2

Groundwater

May 6, 2018 -
present
5 5 2 1 2
Surface Water Dec 20, 2018 -
present
9 0 N/A N/A N/A

Cumulative

  89* 80* 52 24 4*

* Drinking Water Results include 1 confirmation sample.
* Residential well results are compared to the MDEQ Part 201 Criteria of 70 ppt and the EPA Lifetime Advisory Level of 70 ppt.
*Groundwater results are compared to the MDEQ Part 201 Criteria of 70 ppt. 

Sampling notes

  • Other PFAS analytes were detected in samples. There are no federal or state standards for these analytes.
  • All sample counts and activities reflect “off-base” sampling efforts only.

Helmer – Dickman Road Area Historical Timeline

The Helmer-Dickman Road Area is located around the Michigan Air National Guard Base in Springfield/Battle Creek. Residential and commercial properties surround the military base to the north, east and south, with the Fort Custer Industrial Park located to the west. This Area came to the attention of the MDEQ in January 2018, due to its long continuous operations as a military base and likely use of AFFF.

  • In February 2018, the Air National Guard conducted an investigation on the Base and installed several monitoring wells in suspected PFAS source areas.
  • In March 2018, the MDEQ began to gather residential drinking water well information, assess potential for PFAS groundwater impacts, and develop a strategy for investigating PFAS impacts beyond the military base property boundary but within a 1-mile radius of the Base.
  • On April 12, 2018, a public meeting was held with municipality officials and residents.
  • April 17-19, 2018, the MDEQ collected water samples from 27 residential wells, 1 commercial drinking water well, and 1 irrigation well.
  • Analytical results indicated 1 residential well had a concentration of 400 parts per trillion (ppt) PFOA, which exceeded the drinking water limit, while 12 other wells had total PFOS+PFOA concentrations of 10-45 ppt. All other wells were less than 10 ppt. The one well that exceeded was initially provided with bottled water by the Calhoun County Health Department and later a filter was installed.
  • In May 2018, the Air National Guard collected groundwater samples from the monitoring wells they installed on the Base in February. The MDEQ collected split samples at the same time. Analytical results were provided in their Final Site Investigation Report dated October 2018.
  • On May 31, 2018, the MDEQ held a meeting with municipality officials to discuss the sampling results from the April sampling event.
  • On June 5, 2018, the MDEQ collected samples from 2 additional monitoring wells, 1 commercial drinking water well and 1 irrigation well located within the 1-mile radius of the Michigan Air National Guard Base.
  • On June 11, 2018, the MDEQ received results from the split samples from monitoring wells that were tested on the Base. Results show the presence of 13 PFAS compounds. The highest results were 21,500 ppt PFOA; 55,500 ppt PFOS; and 38,400 ppt PFHxS.
  • The Helmer-Dickman Road Area is expanded further north into Bedford Township due to PFAS detections observed in residential wells.
  • From June 13-15, 2018 the MDEQ collected water samples from 32 additional residential wells, and 1 irrigation well in Bedford Township.
  • July 16-17, 2018, analytical sample results were received for residential wells in Bedford Township. Results indicated 2 wells had PFOS+PFOA concentrations of 10-45 ppt and 30 wells were less than 10 ppt. No wells exceeded Lifetime Health Advisory (LHA) criteria of 70 ppt.
  • On July 30, 2018, an Open House and Town Hall meeting was held for the public.
  • August 1-10, 2018, the MDEQ sampled 11 additional residential wells, and 1 Type II well following requests received during and after the July 30 Open House.
  • Filters have been provided by the Calhoun County Health Department to 25 homes in the Helmer-Dickman Road Area. Two homes have been provided replacement filters.
  • Bottled water was temporarily provided to 8 homes by the Calhoun County Health Department, but only until they had a filter installed.
  • August 2018, The MDEQ received analytical sample results for additional residential wells sampled in the Helmer-Dickman Road Area. Results indicated 5 wells had PFOS+PFOA concentrations of 10-45 ppt and 4 wells were less than 10 ppt. No wells exceeded the LHA criteria of 70 ppt.
  • On October 18, 2018, was sent to the Air National Guard requesting them to comply with the requirements of Part 201, Environmental Remediation, of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act, 1994 PA, as amended for this facility.
  • On October 22, 2018, the MDEQ received the Final Site Investigation Report from the Air National Guard which detailed the work they conducted on the Base earlier in the year.
  • From October 29-31, 2018, fish were harvested from the Beaver Dam Pond, the Elks Lodge Pond and the Greene Pond within the Area. Analytical results from the Beaver Dam Pond study are pending and anticipated in mid to late February. Fish samples collected from the other two private Ponds will be submitted to the lab as well.
  • On December 20, 2018, the MDEQ collected 9 surface water samples along Helmer Creek and the Kalamazoo River. Analytical results are anticipated in mid to late January.