Bradford White Corporation announced Friday the next phase of its plans to strengthen its ongoing environmental efforts at its Middleville plant.
In the 1980s, Bradford White discovered a containment pit inside the manufacturing facility had leaked trichloroethylene, which breaks down to other chlorinated compounds including ethylene dichloride and vinyl chloride.
For the last several decades, Bradford White has successfully worked with the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE), environmental scientists and engineers, experts and regulators to improve the groundwater quality near the Middleville facility and minimize the environmental impact. All significant aspects of the ongoing remediation have been performed under regulatory oversight and approval by EGLE. Treatment over the years has significantly reduced the extent and concentration of contaminants in the affected area.
Over the past several months, the company has been engaging stakeholders – including community leaders, employees, and environmental and conservation leaders – and working with EGLE to develop a Response Activity Plan (RAP).
“We are committed to listening to our community and being a good neighbor and a good steward of the environment,” said Mark Taylor, executive vice president and general manager at Bradford White. “Our Response Activity Plan outlines the continuance of our long-term, proactive remediation efforts to aid in protecting our environment, as well as improving groundwater quality and the Thornapple River watershed. As someone who has lived along the Thornapple River, I take our company’s responsibility in this matter very seriously.”
The key elements of Bradford White’s Response Activity Plan include proactive actions that have been in progress for years:
- Ongoing successful bioremediation efforts. Since 2004, Bradford White has used a process called anaerobic biodegradation to destroy the chlorinated solvent compounds in the groundwater beneath the press room in the plant. This process uses emulsified soybean oil, which is injected into an aquifer to create an oxygen-poor environment and feed naturally occurring microbes that break down the chlorinated solvents to non-toxic forms. The soybean oil is environmentally friendly and does not migrate to the river.
- Continued control and treatment of groundwater migration. Groundwater is captured at two locations and is pumped to the plant where the contaminants are removed by an air stripper. The cleaned water is returned to the watershed under permit from EGLE.
- Regulatory compliance. Bradford White will continue to follow EGLE recommendations for continued regulatory compliance, including a final mixing zone determination anticipated from EGLE. Groundwater will continue to be actively monitored to ensure compliance with surface water standards.
- Groundwater use restriction update. In addition, Bradford White will work with the Village of Middleville to update the existing groundwater use restriction ordinance and engage the community and our stakeholders.
“Bradford White has always been fully committed to addressing this matter which impacts the community we serve and call home. We are proud of our remediation efforts and, by all measurements, they are working,” Taylor said. “Our Response Activity Plan, developed with environmental scientists, engineers, EGLE and community stakeholders, will strengthen our continuing efforts to improve groundwater quality and protect our environment. We are committed to preserving the Thornapple River for generations to come.”
“Over the past year, our Stakeholder Committee has worked closely with Bradford White to protect and preserve the Thornapple River Watershed,” said Erv Gambee, president of the Thornapple River Watershed Council. “I applaud Bradford White for taking this matter seriously and for listening to our thoughts, concerns and ideas as they developed the Response Activity Plan. Based on the facts and data presented, the reduction of pollutants over time is remarkable. They have kept us informed throughout the process and we look forward to working with them as they continue to improve groundwater quality in and around the Thornapple River and watershed.”