EPA to test new cleanup method for former chemical plant

June 30, 2019 GMT

ST. LOUIS, Mich. (AP) — The Environmental Protection Agency is planning to test a new method to remove soil contaminants in flood plains downstream from a former chemical plant in central Michigan.

If effective, the process could save millions of dollars in ongoing cleanup efforts at the Velsicol Chemical plant site in St. Louis, Michigan, which has become one of the country’s costliest Superfund sites.

The agency has directed $30,000 in grant money to study the possible use of activated charcoal as a way to remove concentrations of the chemical DDT in flood plain soil, the Morning Sun reported .


DDT and other volatile organic chemicals, such as polybrominated biphenyls, were left behind at the site when the plant closed roughly 40 years ago. DDT seeped into the soil and was also found to have leaked into the nearby Pine River, costing more than $100 million to clean up.

The first phase of the site cleanup was completed last fall, and the second phase is underway. Workers will be inserting metal rods into the ground to remove chemicals from the soil. The rods bring the chemicals to boiling, and then they’re siphoned off and destroyed.

The pilot study will spread activated charcoal over soil contaminated with DDT to test whether the chemical binds to carbon. The chemical would then remain in the soil but it would no longer be bioavailable to be taken up by organisms.

The land currently lacks soil creatures and insects, while robins that have chosen to nest in the area show uncharacteristic behaviors, according to Jane Keon, secretary of the Pine River Superfund Citizens Task Force. The group is an EPA-sanctioned community group that’s been overseeing cleanup of the Superfund site.

EPA officials said the agency may present findings this summer, but that the entire process should take a year.


Information from: Morning Sun, http://www.themorningsun.com/