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State establishes mutual agreement with Georgia-Pacific on Parchment PFAS investigation

PARCHMENT, MICHIGAN. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) will be working closely with Georgia-Pacific LLC (GP) to identify the source(s) of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) contamination that affected the city of Parchment’s water supply and private drinking water wells in Cooper Township.  The city wells and some of the private wells were found to contain high levels of PFAS in July as part of the state-wide initiative to test all public water supplies for this emerging family of chemicals. Alternate water sources were obtained while local and state officials worked to ensure the health of the public.

“Recently after learning of the contamination, GP contacted us to propose committing resources to the project,” said David Harn, MDEQ Project Manager overseeing the MDEQ’s response efforts. “The MDEQ has been preparing plans to undertake a field investigation while also researching potential source operations and responsible parties when GP made contact.”

While the company never owned or operated the paper mill that is suspected to be a source of the contamination, they do have a corporate relationship with the former owner.  The former paper mill property and associated landfill are suspected of being sources of the contamination, but may not be the only sources in the area.  The MDEQ continues to investigate potential sources.

Part 201 of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act governs the State’s responses to contamination.  It allows private parties to conduct response actions for many reasons, including liability for the contamination, a desire to market or redevelop a property, or for no defined reason at all.  Parties known to have responsibility for contamination are required to conduct cleanup activities unless they are financially insolvent.

GP has voluntarily agreed to do the following:

  • Develop a workplan with the MDEQ’s assistance that identifies monitoring well locations and depths, sampling procedures and analytical methodology.
  • Install monitoring wells in accordance with the workplan.
  • Measure water levels in the monitoring wells.
  • Collect and analyze groundwater samples in accordance with the workplan.
  • Provide all data to the MDEQ along with tables and figures to summarize results.
  • Install additional monitoring wells and collect additional groundwater samples as needed to understand and define the extent of contamination as well as the sources of PFAS impacting private and public water supplies.
  • Provide the MDEQ with a report on the information obtained through the workplan.

All work will be conducted at GP’s expense, under the MDEQ’s supervision and the MDEQ may elect to undertake additional field activities to further protect public health and the environment.  The MDEQ will also continue to oversee the successful transition of city of Parchment water to a new system and the local and state health departments will continue to work with the community to provide alternative water where needed. 

“We appreciate GP’s cooperation and especially thank area residents for their patience as we continue to find solutions to PFAS in the city of Parchment and Cooper Township,” said Harn.