Oct 16, 2018

Water Heater Company Threatens Michigan Groundwater

MDEQ will hold an informational session in response to groundwater contamination

Groundwater contamination threatens Michigan water quality
Groundwater contamination threatens Michigan water quality

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) announced plans to hold an informational session Nov. 7 at the Thornapple Kellogg High School in Middleville, Mich., in response to concerns over plumes of toxic chemicals discharging into the Thornapple River through polluted groundwater. The concerns stem from chlorinated solvent waste dumped by a water heater manufacturer in the river.

Earlier in October, the company in question, Bradford White Corp., pulled a request to establish a contamination mixing zone in the river. Though the request was dropped, MDEQ said plumes of contaminated solvents continue to discharge into the river through polluted groundwater. MDEQ received more than 100 emails and 30 letters about Bradford White’s request to allow discharge while dilution occurs, following a report by local news source MLive. Though the request was pulled, the company can ask MDEQ to approve a compliance plan or no further action request using that data.

The application argued that the discharge would not degrade river quality because that is already occurring. However, the water-heater company’s discharge includes vinyl chloride, trichlorethylene (TCE) and ethylene dichloride, two of which are considered carcinogens by the U.S. EPA.

According to MLive, Bradford White has attempted to remediate the plumes by pumping and treating contaminated water and using bacteria. The plumes began underneath the plant and eventually spread west toward the river, even extending south towards residential areas of Middleville.

The MDEQ meeting will be held Nov. 7 at the Thornapple Kellogg High School Auditorium at 6:30 p.m., but staff will be available beforehand to answer questions.