The Helmer and Dickman Road Area (Area) is in the city of Battle Creek/Springfield Township, Calhoun County, Michigan near the Air National Guard (ANG) base (Base). Residential and commercial properties are present to the north, east, and south, with the Fort Custer Industrial Park located to the west. The Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) started to assess the Area based on the history of aqueous film forming foam (AFFF) use for fire-fighting training at the Base.
Initial DEQ actions focused on testing drinking water wells to better understand potential risk to human health through water consumption. City water is available in parts of the Area, however, many residents in the Area drink water from private wells. Several residents also consume fish that come from lakes and streams in the Area and consume agricultural products grown in the Area.
After a municipal briefing on April 12, DEQ contractors tested water wells east and north of the Base. Results were shared with municipal leaders at a second briefing on May 31, 2018. The DEQ also shared plans to test water wells in Bedford Township and began to test those wells in June 2018.
Sampling Data: The DEQ tested 61 drinking water wells in the Area (off-base) using EPA Method 537 Rev 1.1. Results have been received for all 61 of those wells:
On June 11, 2018, the DEQ received results of split samples from water 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 other split samples were analyzed by the ANG’s lab; results are expected sometime in July.
The DEQ also measured water levels, redeveloped, and tested two monitor wells located north and off-Base using the isotope dilution method. Test results for those wells indicated PFOA is present in both wells below 70 ppt. PFOS is present in both wells above 70 ppt with the highest level at 902 ppt. Several other PFAS compounds are also present in both wells. These wells are located down-gradient of the Base as shown by groundwater flow data collected by the DEQ at a nearby facility. DEQ expects groundwater flow direction will be influenced by the surface water features in the Area to the north, most notably the Kalamazoo River.
The DEQ will continue to visit home owners in a portion of Bedford Township to request permission and to test water wells north and northwest and more than one mile from the Base. Work is also in progress to evaluate records to determine if there are other suspected locations where PFAS may have been made or used. In July 2018, the DEQ is preparing to host another Open House and a Town Hall meeting for the public.