For nearly 20 years, Wolverine Lake officials have been trying to stabilize the contamination levels caused by two underground storage tanks under the Department of Public Works (DPW) facility. Monitoring has been conducted by several companies over the years, but to put closure on the situation, the Village Council has hired a new environmental consulting firm.
After soliciting six proposals from engineering firms specializing in environmental project management, the Administrative Committee forwarded a recommendation to the council to award the clean-up project to Amec-BCI Engineering.
“They brought up issues we hadn’t heard before regarding the microbial mix in the water,” said Village Council President John Magee. “We liked their approach.”
When a pair of gas tanks used at the DPW facility were removed in the 1990s, an underground gas leakage was discovered. A few years ago, an ozone treatment was tried to accelerate the natural decomposition process. The situation continued to be monitored and the underground pollution plume was stable for years. But in recent months petroleum contamination levels have gradually increased.
“It worked at first and then the levels rebounded so we decided to do further investigation and gather more data,” Magee said. “We need to get to a place where everything is completely contained and stable and below groundwater quality thresholds so the DEQ (Michigan Department of Environmental Quality) can sign off on it.”
The DEQ provides several options for cleaning up the site, including digging up the area and moving the tainted material to a landfill, or monitoring the site and if it stabilizes, it’s presumed the pollution would slowly degenerate over time.
“We could very well choose the latter, but we’re trying to own this and make it as good as possible,” Magee said.
“The area is all sand so to dig out and remove all the material would be extremely costly and difficult,” said village engineering consultant Mike Powell.
According to Amec-BCI’s proposal, engineers will be internally monitoring and collecting samples at the DPW station to ensure there are no vapor releases; installing two on-site monitoring wells and collecting and analyzing samples from the wells; and analyzing the conditions to better characterize the microbial environment.
“They want to test the site to determine what bacteria is naturally occurring and what type of bacteria would be most effective to eat away at the contamination,” Magee said.
The project is expected to cost less than $15,000.
Magee noted that the contamination has not encroached on nearby drinking water wells.
According to Powell, the DEQ uses several contamination thresholds, depending on the use of the land.
“Right now the contamination is substantially higher than the residential threshold,” Powell said. “Unfortunately, it has crossed the property line into three neighborhood parcels so that’ s why the village is so concerned. However, people are very much aware and (the village) has informed them every step of the way.”