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AG Nessel Continues Action to Fight PFAS Contamination
September 29, 2022
GRAND RAPIDS – Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel continued her push for accountability against those who expose residents to hazardous materials and contaminate Michigan’s environment today by filing a lawsuit in Kent County Circuit Court against a company that left Michigan after contaminating multiple properties in West and Southwest Michigan with PFAS and other hazardous materials.
The lawsuit filed by the Attorney General, seeks compliance and damages from FKI Hardware, Inc., successor to the former Keeler Brass Company, to address its releases of hazardous substances into the environment. Those hazardous substances include volatile organic compounds (VOCs) such as trichloroethylene (TCE), per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), and metals. The sites of known or suspected contamination include:
- 945 and 955 Godfrey Avenue SW, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49503;
- 2929 32nd Street SE, Kentwood, Michigan 49512;
- 835 Hall Street SW, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49503;
- 236 Stevens Street SW, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49507;
- 311 N. Centennial Street, Zeeland, Michigan 49464;
- 39 State Street, Middleville, Michigan 49333;
- 4300 Ferry Street SW, Grandville, Michigan 49418;
- 609 Tupper Lake Street, Lake Odessa, Michigan 48849; and
- 157 W. Beech Street NE, Cedar Springs, Michigan 49319.
“Michigan residents deserve to be safe from environmental contamination in their communities,” said Nessel. “Companies that do business in Michigan, pull up stakes and leave their communities with contaminated air and water will pay the price. This lawsuit is another demonstration of my department’s commitment to do what is necessary to hold companies that polluted our environment accountable.”
The lawsuit seeks to require the company to properly investigate the risks posed by their contamination, which is in soil and groundwater. TCE may be present in some locations at concentrations that can cause harmful vapors to seep up into the air inside buildings above the contamination. These vapors can expose people breathing the indoor air to unacceptable health risks.
An imminent and substantial endangerment to human health and the environment is known to exist at one site (the Godfrey Property) from TCE. The Attorney General and the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) are concerned that fuller investigation and a complete effort to reduce health risks are necessary to protect workers and other occupants of buildings in the vicinity of these former Keeler or FKI Hardware properties.
EGLE has demanded compliance with state law regarding remediation at all nine sites, but FKI Hardware has not met its obligations.
“It is critical that companies take responsibility for contamination they caused and that they work with EGLE to achieve full compliance,” said Nessel. “The health of Michigan’s residents and Michigan’s environment are at stake.”
Both PFAS and TCE are widely acknowledged as being used in metal finishing—PFAS as a mist suppressant in the plating process and TCE as a degreasing agent for metal parts. PFAS does not break down easily and bioaccumulates in the human body, and exposure is associated with several negative health outcomes including pregnancy-induced hypertension, reduced fertility, high blood pressure or pre-eclampsia in pregnant women, higher cholesterol, thyroid disease, liver damage, decreased immune system response to vaccines, and developing certain types of cancer, including kidney and testicular cancers. TCE studies indicate that even short-term exposures can have acute negative health effects. If a person who is pregnant is exposed to TCE at high enough levels the fetus is at risk of heart malformation. In addition to the risk posed over a short period of time, long-term exposure to TCE also puts the person exposed at risk of many serious health complications. TCE is classified as a carcinogen, affecting the liver and kidney, and poses risks of other adverse noncancer effects on the human central nervous system, the immune system, and the endocrine system.
More information about Nessel’s work on PFAS litigation can be found on the Attorney General's PFAS website.