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Cherry Capital Airport (Traverse City, Grand Traverse County)
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Cherry Capital Airport (Airport), located at 727 Fly Don't Drive in Traverse City, is a current Federal Aviation Regulation Part 139 certified commercial service airport that has used Class B Aqueous Film Forming Foam (AFFF). AFFF is a firefighting foam that is known to contain per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).
The airport received PFAS grant funding from Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) to assess areas of historic AFFF storage and use. The airport identified and investigated the soil and groundwater at various locations where AFFF was stored or used for testing or areas identified as previous dumps. Soil contamination was identified at three locations. Groundwater contamination was identified at all five locations and four locations were above applicable cleanup criteria.
The direction of groundwater flow at the site is generally to the northeast. There were 18 residential drinking water wells located within close proximity to the airport. EGLE, in coordination with Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and the Grand Traverse County Health Department (GTCHD), sampled the private wells in November 2020. Nine of the 18 residential drinking water wells sampled contained PFAS exceeding the drinking water criteria. The other nine residential drinking water wells contained PFAS but all were below criteria. All residential drinking water well owners were notified of their sample results and provided water filters or bottled water from the GTCHD. Connection of the 18 residential drinking water wells to the East Bay Township municipal water system occurred from March 1, 2021 through March 19, 2021 through a $150,000 grant secured through EGLE and $85,000 from Grand Traverse County.
PFAS were discovered in a groundwater sample from a residential well located 280 feet from East Grand Traverse Bay (Bay). Additional assessment is needed to determine the risk to the Bay.
Content posted October 2021.
On October 21, 2020, bottled water was provided to 18 residential well owners due to PFAS groundwater contamination identified along Parsons Avenue. November 4 and 5, 2020, EGLE, in coordination with DHHS and the GTCHD, began sampling the residential wells. On November 13, 2020, EGLE was informed that nine of the 18 residential drinking water wells had PFAS above drinking water criteria. The other 9 residential drinking water wells contained PFAS but all were below criteria. All residential drinking well owners were notified of their sample results and provided water filters or water coolers from the GTCHD during the first 2 weeks of December. Connection of the 18 residential drinking water wells to the East Bay Township municipal water system occurred from March 1, 2021 through March 19, 2021, through a $150,000 grant secured through EGLE and $85,000 from Grand Traverse County.
On November 29, 2021 the Airport is scheduled to submit the Fourth Quarterly Groundwater Report.
- By December 8, 2020, the airport completed the first phase of their remedial investigation which included the collection of soil, surface water and groundwater samples and the installation of multiple monitor wells.
- On December 12, 2020, EGLE received the draft PFAS Soil Investigation Report and the draft PFAS Surface Water Investigation Report from the airport.
- On January 25, 2021 a virtual townhall meeting was held to update the committee on the status of the investigation.
- On January 29, 2021 EGLE received the following reports from the Airport: Fourth Quarter 2020 Report; TVC PFAS Assessment -Updated Project Schedule; Surface water Investigation Report; TVC PFAS Soil Investigation Report; PFAS Groundwater Sampling Report; PFAS MW Installation Record. The highest levels of PFAS in groundwater were: PFOA at 3050 ppt; PFOS at 511 ppt; PFNA at 687 ppt; and PFHxS at 25.1ppt. The highest levels of PFAS in soil were: PFOS at 4.68 ppb.
- Connection of the 18 residential drinking water wells to the East Bay Township municipal water system occurred from March 1 through March 19, 2021 through a $150,000 grant secured through EGLE and $85,000 from Grand Traverse County. The grant was awarded to East Bay Township.
- On March 12, 2021, EGLE sent the Airport a compliance communication to the Airport notifying it of its obligations to define the extent of contamination and take corrective actions as necessary to protect the public health and environment. A response was requested by April 11, 2021.
- On April 9, 2021 a virtual meeting was held with the Airport, the United States Coast Guard (USCG), MDOT, GTCHD and EGLE to discuss the results and the next steps in the investigation
- On April 9, 2021, the Airport provided a response to the EGLE compliance communication dated March 12, 2021. The Airport indicated that they would continue with the groundwater investigation but believe they are not responsible for the contamination in the Pine Grove Subdivision for which municipal water was provided. The Airport will continue with their investigation to determine the nature and extent of the contamination. The Airport also indicated that the PFAS releases which occurred on March 10, 2020, November and December 2020 were cleaned up.
- On April 14, 2021 MPART hosted a community meeting about the PFAS investigations at the Airport and the USCG and the status of the municipal water connections and well abandonments at the Pine Grove Subdivision.
- In April 2021, additional monitor wells were installed and were sampled.
- On June 17, 2021, the Airport submitted the First Quarter 2021 PFAS Groundwater Sampling Report. The report documented the installation of 6 additional monitor wells along with the sampling of all 25 monitor wells as well as a proposal for the installation of 5 additional monitor wells to better define the extent of the groundwater contamination. A groundwater divide was discovered. The newly proposed wells will also help determine the groundwater flow direction. Of the 25 groundwater samples collected, PFAs were found above drinking water criteria in 18 samples. The highest levels of PFAs were found in MW-102, MW-402, and MW-404.
- On July 12, 2021, EGLE, MDOT and the Airport had a meeting to discuss the results of the First Quarter 2021 PFAS Groundwater Sampling Report and proposed monitor well locations
- On September 9, 2021, EGLE met with the Airport to discuss the progress of the remedial investigation, the Airport's response to the 2020 releases of PFAS, the schedule for the additional monitor well installation, best management practices to prevent new PFAS releases, and the notice of migration to off-site parties. The monitor wells will be installed after a permit is obtained from the Michigan Department of Transportation, most likely in October 2021. After the monitor wells are installed, sampled, and the groundwater flow direction refined, the notice of migration documents will be sent out to impacted property owners by the Airport. The Airport property is in the process of being transferred to the Northwest Regional Airport Authority and is expected to occur in October 2021.
- On September 29, 2021, the Airport submitted the Third Quarter 2021 PFAS Groundwater Sampling Report. The report documented the sampling of 18 monitor wells. The groundwater flow direction was confirmed. Of the 18 groundwater samples collected, PFAS were found above drinking water criteria in 12 samples. The highest levels of PFAS were as follows: PFNA at 669 ppt in MW-404; PFOS at 631 ppt in MW-102, and PFOA at 1,450 ppt in MW-101. Seven additional monitor wells are scheduled to be installed in October 2021.
Sampling Results Summary
Type of Sample
Date Sampled (or range)
Number of Sample Results Received
Number of Samples above Criteria*
Residential Wells November 2020 - December 2020 18 9 Groundwater Monitoring Wells December 2020 - April 2021 61 45
*Residential well and groundwater monitoring well results are compared to EGLE Part 201 criteria for 7 PFAS compounds effective 12/21/2020: PFOS (16 ppt), PFOA (8 ppt), PFNA (6 ppt), PFHxS (51 ppt), PFHxA (400,000 ppt), PFBS (420 ppt), and HFPO-DA (370 ppt).
- Water samples were collected from the storm water retention basins and referred to as surface water samples. The retention basin is not, however, connected to any surface water body and therefore are more indicative of water that discharges to groundwater. These samples were above criteria. They are not reflected in the table above.