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J.B. Sims Generating Station (Grand Haven, Ottawa County)

EGLE Site Lead: Kent Walters, WaltersK7@Michigan.gov or 616-278-4350. Webpage last updated March 2, 2022.

Background

Harbor Island, in Grand Haven, started as natural marshland near the mouth of the Grand River and was initially used as a landing point for logging operations. In the 1950s and 1960s, the island was used as a city dump:  wastes were disposed of and pushed into the low marshland areas. The coal-fired J.B. Sims Generating Station, located at 1231 North 3rd Street, was constructed and started operating in the early 1960s. It was operated by the Grand Haven Board of Light and Power (GHBLP). Coal ash wastes were disposed in unlined lagoons and the adjacent wetlands. In the early 1980s, clay lined lagoons were constructed for coal ash management. New federal regulations in 2015 and State of Michigan requirements in 2018 required the site to complete various actions, including assessing the groundwater for potential impacts from site operations. GHBLP sampled for PFAS to determine appropriate environmental response actions and assess the island for environmental contaminants.

Groundwater flow is complicated and dependent upon precipitation, Lake Michigan water levels, Grand River water levels and site operations. Groundwater flow has been observed to the north, south, east, and west on the site. Potential surface water receptors include the Grand River and the wetlands that are east and north of the site. 

JB Sims Generating Station Map

Recent Accomplishments

  • On February 25, 2022, the city of Grand Haven submitted to EGLE a report with the sampling results for 24 onsite groundwater samples.  18 out of 24 samples collected exceeded groundwater clean-up criteria for PFOS, PFOA and PFHxS.  The highest exceedance of PFOA was 135 ppt collected at monitoring well PZ-13, the highest exceedance of PFOA was 283 collected at monitoring well MW-8, the highest exceedance of PFHxS was 311 ppt collected at monitoring well PZ-13.  All other regulated PFAS were below criteria. 

Residential Well Testing/Alternate Water Information

  • This site is located on an island; there are no homes on the island and no residential wells.  Municipal water is provided to the area by the Northwest Ottawa County Water Treatment Plant. 

Next Steps

  • The city of Grand Haven is assessing data to determine next steps in developing a clean-up strategy for the island.

Upcoming Community Engagement

  • None scheduled at this time

Sampling Results Summary

Type of Sample

Date Sampled (or Range)

Number of Sample Results Received

Number of Samples above Criteria*

Groundwater Monitoring Wells

May 24, 2021 and January 2022 71 51
Surface Water June 24, 2021 - October 2021 14 6
*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). 

*Surface water samples are compared to Rule 57 drinking water values of 11 ppt for PFOS and 420 ppt for PFOA. 

Sampling Notes

  • None

Historical Timeline

    • On April 23, 2021, GHBLP submitted a workplan to EGLE and the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to better understand groundwater flow.

    • On May 12, 2021, EGLE and the EPA responded to the workplan by providing technical guidance and suggestions.

    • On May 19, 2021, GHBLP responded to EGLE's and the EPA's comments.

    • On May 25, 2021, GHBLP sampled 10 onsite groundwater monitoring wells for PFAS.  

    • On June 2 and 3, EGLE responded to GHBLP's comments by providing further technical guidance and suggestions to the workplan.

    • On June 11, 2021, GHBLP submitted a revised workplan to better understand groundwater flow onsite.

    • On June 17, 2021, GHBLP submitted to EGLE a report with the sampling results for the 10 onsite groundwater monitoring wells.  Eight of 10 samples collected exceeded groundwater standards for PFOS and PFOA.  The highest detections were:  PFOA at 20 ppt at monitor well MW-08; PFOS at 236 ppt at monitor well MW-8; PFBS at 7 ppt at MW-5; PFHxS at 9 ppt at monitor well MW-3; and PFHxA at 22 ppt at monitor well MW-5. PFNA was not detected.

    • On June 22, 2021, EGLE approved the revised workplan to install 22 piezometers to better understand groundwater flow on the site.   

    • On June 24, 2021, GHBLP resampled 10 monitoring wells for PFAS and sampled 7 surface water locations.

    • On July 16, 2021, GHBLP submitted to EGLE a report with the sampling results for 10 onsite groundwater wells and 7 onsite surface water locations.  Eight of 10 groundwater samples collected exceeded groundwater clean-up criteria for PFOS and PFOA, and two of five surface water samples exceeded surface water quality standards for PFOS.  For groundwater, the highest detections were: PFOA was 19 ppt at monitor well MW-03; PFOS was 268 ppt at monitor well MW-8; PFBS was 9 ppt at MW-5; PFHxS was 10 ppt at monitor well MW-3; PFHxA was 16 ppt at monitor well MW-5; and PFNA was 3 ppt at monitor well MW-8.  For surface water, the highest concentrations of PFAS constituents were detected in the wetland North of the site.  PFOS was 18 ppt; PFOA was 5 ppt; PFBS was 3 ppt; PFHxS was 3 ppt; PFHxA was 5 ppt; and PFNA was not detected.

    • On July 28, 2021, MPART hosted a virtual town hall regarding the PFAS investigation and other environmental issues at this site.

    • On August 13, 2021, GHBLP submitted to EGLE a report with the sampling results for two surface water samples collected from the North Wetland and East Wetland as indicated on the map.  The North Wetland sample result exceeded surface water quality standards for PFOS with a detection of 12 ppt.

    • During the week of October 25, 2021, GHBLP sampled 27 groundwater locations including 17 newly installed monitoring wells.  Seven surface water samples were re-sampled to check PFAS concentrations in surface water within and surrounding Harbor Island.

    • On November 19, 2021, GHBLP submitted to EGLE a report with the sampling results for 27 onsite groundwater samples and seven surface water samples.  17 of 27 samples collected exceeded groundwater clean-up criteria for PFOS, PFOA and PFHxS, and three of seven surface water samples exceeded surface water quality values for PFOS.  For groundwater, the highest exceedances were: PFOA was 49 ppt at monitor well PZ-13, PFOS was 290 ppt at monitor well MW-08, PFHxS was 80 ppt at PZ-13.  For surface water, the highest exceedances was PFOS at 24 ppt at the East Wetland 1 location