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Ottawa County 120th Avenue PFAS Study Area detects widespread contamination

Water faucet photo
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The results of a state study into the discovery of PFAS in an Ottawa County school’s drinking water supply have been released.

In October, well water tests revealed elevated levels of PFAS in the drinking water at Robinson Elementary School in Grand Haven. Exceeding the EPA Advisory Level of 70 parts per trillion, the water was shut off and bottled water was supplied to students and staff.

That triggered state testing of nearby residential drinking water wells known as the 120th Avenue PFAS Study Area where 66 wells were inspected. One of those wells exceeded 70 parts per trillion.

“We took action, developed an action plan so any resident that had any detection of PFAS in their water they were offered and provided point of use filtration systems for in their kitchen.”

Kristina Weighmink is with the Ottawa County Department of Public Health. She says the Michigan Department of Environmental, Great Lakes and Energy conducted a hydrogeologic investigation of soil and ground water direction resulting in further PFAS detection.

“And the highest concentrations were detected at the Robinson Township property north of the fire department building and then also around the school. So, that told us PFAS compounds may have been released at both locations historically. Now, the Department of Environmental, Great Lakes and Energy also explored whether this could have been caused by the use of AFFF foam, firefighting foam, they verified with the township and the fire department that the foam was not possessed or historically used and the fire department does not have any historical knowledge of it being applied in the area. So, that being said, that foam has been available since the 1960s and it’s possible that it was applied in the area during an era that predates the knowledge of anyone currently associated with the fire department. They also explored other potential sources which may have included illicit dumping or disposal of industrial waste, but they were not able to identify any of that.”

The state will now take a closer at the extent of the ground contamination north and east of the fire station.

Patrick Center, WGVU News.

Patrick joined WGVU Public Media in December, 2008 after eight years of investigative reporting at Grand Rapids' WOOD-TV8 and three years at WYTV News Channel 33 in Youngstown, Ohio. As News and Public Affairs Director, Patrick manages our daily radio news operation and public interest television programming. An award-winning reporter, Patrick has won multiple Michigan Associated Press Best Reporter/Anchor awards and is a three-time Academy of Television Arts & Sciences EMMY Award winner with 14 nominations.