Carl's Retreading is located on approximately four acres in Blair Township, Grand Traverse County, 900 feet west of the Blair Elementary School. Land use in the vicinity is residential/rural/light industrial. Drinking water in the area is provided by a mixture of private wells, community (type II) wells for individual subdivisions and for Blair Elementary School, and the township’s water supply system. Cox Pond and Beitner Creek are located 1/3 mile to the north.
Carl's Retreading operated for several years as a scrap tire collection/recycling site. On December 29, 1995, a fire began in a tire shredding machine which then ignited scrap tires that were piled up to 30 feet high. The fire burned for several weeks, during which time Blair Elementary School was closed and 62 residents were evacuated from their homes. The fire department initially tried using aqueous film forming foam (AFFF) to put out the fire but this proved ineffective. Ultimately, the fire was extinguished by spraying it down with water and burying the burning tires utilizing heavy construction equipment.
After the fire was extinguished, Carl’s Retreading did not diligently address outstanding obligations under state environmental laws, such as the removal of partially burnt tires and remediation of the resulting soil and groundwater contamination. This resulted in the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) filing a complaint against the company and its owners in circuit court during the spring of 1998. In October 1998, a Default Judgment was entered in Grand Traverse County Circuit Court holding Carl's Retreading and its partners liable for those activities. In 1999, Carl's Retreading abandoned the site and initiated bankruptcy proceedings.
- During the fall of 2002 and spring of 2003, approximately 36,000 tons of scrap tires were removed and hauled to a landfill utilizing state funds.Following the tire removal, approximately 86,000 tons of contaminated soil, ash, and tire debris was excavated and disposed of at a landfill.Other remediation activities occurred for the next few years.
- State funded response activities were again initiated at the Carl’s Retreading site in 2018 to evaluate whether the past application of AFFF on the tire fire resulted in PFAS contamination in the groundwater.
- During May 2018, MDEQ staff conducted a limited scope groundwater investigation in an area immediately downgradient of the Carl’s Retreading site to check for PFAS contamination.
- Five sampling locations (labeled A – E on the site map) were selected for vertical sampling of the aquifer down to 70 feet below ground surface. (During vertical sampling, a sample is taken every 10 feet). Analytical results were received for sample locations C, D, and E on June 1, 2018.PFAS was reported in all three of these samples.
- At sample location C, concentrations of Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) was reported at 60 parts per trillion (ppt) and Perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) at 260 ppt in the sample collected at 36 to 40 feet below ground surface.
- DEQ later received results for wells A and B; one of the results for well B had PFOA of 92 ppt and PFOS of 69 ppt.
- Sampling of the drinking water at Blair Elementary School and one residence directly downgradient of the Carl’s site was completed on July 16, 2018. Results are expected as early as the end of July.
- Ten additional homes were recently identified with drinking water wells along Sawyer Road proximate to the Carl’s site and will be scheduled for sampling in mid-August. Efforts will also be conducted during this time to verify whether any residences in the subdivision immediately across Sawyer Road still use private wells for drinking water. If these are observed, sampling of the wells will be scheduled.