May 09, 2019

Granular Activated Carbon Filter in Michigan Aims to Help PFAS Contamination

North Kent Sewer Authority to decide whether to accept groundwater from Wolverine World Wide

North Kent Sewer Authority to decide whether to accept groundwater from Wolverine World Wide

Filtered groundwater may be sent through the North Kent Sewer Authority system as part of the Wolverine World Wide’s plan to clean up toxic PFAS contamination at its former tannery site in Rockford, Mich.

According to MLive, North Kent officials will decide this summer whether to accept groundwater from the tannery. Wolverine has promised to rid of contaminants before sending water to the wastewater plant.

The remediation system is in the hands of the North Kent sewer, which discharges treated wastewater to the Grand River under a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit. According to MLive, the system is permitted to accept pre-treated industrial wastewater.

North Kent Sewer Authority director Scott Schoolcraft said that North Kent would stop accepting Wolverine’s discharge if testing showed the system was not removing the PFAS.

Schoolcraft said the system board wants to ensure Wolverine’s proposed cleanup plan removes PFAS compounds and other contaminants, such as mercury and lead, before accepting the discharge.

“We don’t want to be a scapegoat for [Wolverine’s] problem,” Schoolcraft said to MLive.

The company would like to filter contaminated groundwater through a granular activated carbon (GAC) system at the former tannery site. According to MLive, the GAC system would remove pollutants before everything is piped to the sewage plant in.

This winter, pump-and-treat extraction wells were installed at the site. According to MLive, testing found PFAS contamination in the soil and groundwater across the site. The total PFAS level along the river and in the groundwater in the area reached 451,000 parts-per-trillion.

Michigan health officials recently have warned people against touching PFAS surface water foam found at the nearby dam. To stop this, the sewer authority plans to remove and divert PFAS-contaminated groundwater from entering the Rogue River.

“[The state] told us that if there’s a problem, they will come after North Kent,” he said to MLive.

The North Kent’s PARCC Side plant has received contaminated leachate from the closed North Kent and State Disposal landfills in addition to Wolverine World Wide, which is installing a GAC filter system to address its discharge limit issues.

The North Kent sewer is one of several Michigan municipal wastewater plants that has received contaminated effluent. Without proper equipment to treat these levels, it has resulted in spreading PFAS into local waterways.