By Associated Press - Monday, March 19, 2018

NORTH MUSKEGON, Mich. (AP) - Officials will soon begin cleaning up lead and petroleum contamination from a former oil refinery in western Michigan.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality hope to make significant progress this year at the former Zephyr Oil Refinery site in Muskegon Township, the Muskegon Chronicle reported .

The effort aims to remove 44,000 cubic yards of contaminated soil and sediments from the site and nearby wetlands, said Sara Pearson with the DEQ’s remediation and redevelopment division.

“Our beautiful beach sand is black, it smells awful and is full of petroleum, so we needed to get it out,” Pearson said.

An estimated 150,000 gallons of petroleum percolated underground and spread once it hit the water table, she said.

“The ground water helped it move,” Pearson said. “It was most unfortunate then that the refinery has a groundwater divide underneath. That made the problem spread to about 100 acres.”

The Muskegon River’s strong current helped pull contaminants away from drinking wells, she said.

Cleanup crews will inject a liquid chemical agent in the soil at the site. The persulfate oxidizer compound will break down the harmful underground petroleum deposits. A hydraulic vacuum truck will suck up leftover chemicals and un-oxidized soil. Crews will begin in the middle of the site and work outward.

“We know where the heavy spots are and where to target,” Pearson said. “We’re working in one grid at a time, and we have other wells out there that we can monitor and see how much we’re influencing. If we haven’t influenced enough or got enough out, we will ‘wash, rinse and repeat.’”

The EPA and the DEQ will monitor the site to watch for deposits that may have been overlooked, she said.

Muskegon Lake is one of 43 toxic hotspots the United States and Canada have identified along the Great Lakes basin.


Information from: The Muskegon Chronicle,

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