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Menasha Landfill (Otsego, Allegan County)
Web content may not routinely be updated on this page. Please contact the Site Lead for the most up-to-date status of the site.
Content posted May 2023.
EGLE Site Lead
Ray Spaulding, SpauldingR1@Michigan.gov or 517-290-2401.
The Menasha Landfill is located at 255 East River Street in Otsego. It operated exclusively for the Menasha Paper Mill until it closed in 1987. The waste disposed of at this site included sludges unsuitable for paper production, mill rejects like wires and plastics, and fly ash from coal-fired boilers. Upon closing, the unlined landfill was capped with a two-foot-thick, low permeability soil mixed with fly ash, and grass was planted on the cap to prevent erosion. Paper sludge was applied to the landfill cap to promote root growth.
In April 2018, in response to community health concerns, the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) compiled a list of known sites of environmental contamination within the greater Otsego area. Landfills and paper mills were identified as potential areas to investigate, as well as farm fields that received paper sludge as a soil amendment. EGLE conducted a multi-phase investigation which included collecting samples from landfill monitoring wells, residential drinking water wells, and ponds located near landfills. The July 2018 sampling by EGLE demonstrated that PFOS was present in the groundwater at 45.6 ppt (compared to 16 ppt).
Beginning in August 2020, Menasha Corporation installed eight soil borings at the landfill. Three of the soil borings were converted to temporary monitoring wells. The soil, groundwater, and surface water sampling results were included in the Data Summary Report. The highest groundwater exceedance, taken from a temporary monitoring well, was 170 ppt PFOA (compared to 8 ppt).
Historical groundwater elevations measured in the monitoring wells installed near the landfill indicate groundwater flows to the southwest toward the Kalamazoo River, which discharges ultimately into Lake Michigan.
Drinking Water Information
The city of Otsego is serviced by municipal water.
EGLE, DHHS, and local health staff coordinated on residential well sampling throughout the Otsego area. Several residential wells located proximal to the paper mill and landfill have been tested as part of the Otsego Area Study and the results are listed on that page. No additional residential drinking water wells are proposed for sampling related to the paper mill investigation.
DHHS will periodically resample residential drinking water wells that have been previously tested.
Menasha Corporation submitted the Work Plan – Presumptive Remedy, Menasha Corporation – Closed Paper Landfill, Otsego, Michigan, dated February 21, 2023, prepared by GZA GeoEnvironmental, Inc. The report is currently under review by EGLE.