The Velsicol site is the location of a notorious industrial mishap and current groundwater and sediment contamination.

Pine River Velsicol Superfund Site

Gratiot County, MI

ESC serves as the Technical Advisor to the Pine River Citizens Task Force for the cleanup of the Velsicol Superfund site in Gratiot County, Michigan. The Velsicol site has a long history of environmental contamination and human health impacts. At the fifty-four acre plant site, Velsicol Chemical Corporation manufactured chemical compounds including PBBs and DDT (made infamous in Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring). The site is perhaps most notorious for a mix up in 1973 when bags of feed designated for Michigan’s cattle stock were filled with PBB rather than the intended magnesium supplement. PBB was then shipped to and incorporated into cattle feed that was not discovered for a year, sickening cattle and causing havoc in the Michigan dairy and cattle industry. This event led to the plant’s shutdown in 1978. Testing indicated that over 97% of Michigan’s human population had detectable levels of PBB in their blood, which was in turn passed on to future generations through mothers’ breast milk. Lawsuits continued for decades after the incident. Chemical contamination from the plant’s operations currently affects groundwater, drinking water, soils, and sediment on the property, in the Pine River, and on residential properties adjacent to the site. A fish consumption advisory has been in effect for this section of the Pine River since 1982.

The original remediation has not accomplished the goal of keeping the river and groundwater free of contaminants and additional work began several years ago to determine the nature and extent of contamination. Now EPA and Michigan Department of Environmental Quality are working to develop a recommended cleanup plan.

ESC will be working with the Pine River Citizens Task Force to provide comments and oversight on the cleanup, beginning with the development of a Feasibility Study, coordinated by the EPA and the Michigan DEQ.

ESC Documents

To see ESC’s comments on the Proposed Plan for the Velsicol Chemical Corporation Superfund Site OU1, click here