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MDEQ investigating Grand Rapids-area site for PFAS contamination

MDEQ map
Department of Environmental Quality
The site is one of more than 30 being investigated for PFAS contamination in Michigan.

A site that was once home to a Lacks Enterprises plating shop is being investigated for PFAS contamination.

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality opened its investigation of the area, which is in Cascade Township near Grand Rapids, on October 19th. It’s now one of more than 30 sites being investigated for PFAS contamination in the state.

Some commonly found PFAS chemicals have been associated with an increased risk of some kinds of cancer.

In the past, PFAS chemicals have been used in plating as a fume suppressant for chromium baths. This particular site transitioned away from chromium plating in 1984, after which the site remained in use for plastic production until 1997. Recently, contaminated groundwater has been found nearly a mile away from the site.

Most of the homes in the investigation area are on Grand Rapids city water. But some homes are on private wells.

According to MLive, Lacks will give bottled water to homes if water contamination above 70 parts per trillion is found in their wells.

A public meeting about the investigation is being held Tuesday, October 30 at the Cascade Township Library.

The Township’s manager, Ben Swayze, declined to be interviewed about the situation. But he sent Michigan Radio a statement via email:

“We support the work of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality to require Lacks Enterprises to address PFAS contamination above EPA limits in groundwater and wells that resulted from its former plating operations,” Swayze wrote. “The PFAS issue continues to affect communities like ours across Michigan, and we are grateful the MDEQ is leading efforts to identify the extent of contamination and to work with Lacks to provide clean, safe drinking water for those whose residential wells are affected in our community.”

He also stated that Cascade Township has started to draft engineering plans to “evaluate the feasibility and expense” of making its municipal water system available to residents whose private wells might be affected by PFAS contamination.

Neither MDEQ nor Lacks Enterprises responded to requests for comment.  

Maya Goldman is a newsroom intern for Michigan Radio. She is currently a student at the University of Michigan, where she studies anthropology and writing. During the school year, Maya also works as a senior news editor and podcast producer for The Michigan Daily.
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