PFAS found at old Grand Haven power plant, city works to contain chemical

Ottawa County

GRAND HAVEN, Mich. (WOOD) — The city of Grand Haven says PFAS has been discovered at the site of the old J.B. Sims Generating Station on Harbor Island.

The Grand Haven Board of Light and Power made the discovery through routine testing in June. GHBLP has been working to prepare the site for new plans since demolishing the coal plant in February.

The GH Board of Light and Power’s website shows plans to reduce their footprint on the island by 50% and add facilities for power generation via solar power, wind power, natural gas and landfill gas. There’s also a rendering for a recreational space for public use but first, the city says there will have to be a process of remediation to contain the PFAS.

“Discovering (PFAS) here was new information for us, but we weren’t too surprised because we know that that’s a contaminant of emerging concern that’s present in our region,” Grand Haven city manager Patrick McGinnis said.

On Wednesday, the Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and the Ottawa County Health Department hosted a virtual meeting to give the community more information about the forever chemical. City officials were also a part of the meeting. They’re now working with state and federal agencies, including the Environment Protection Agency, on a plan to contain the PFAS. They say there’s about 258 parts per trillion. None of it has made it into drinking water.

The old J.B. Sims Generating Station site in Grand Haven on July 29, 2021.

“We don’t think it’s a trauma. We again are testing our water every month to make sure we’re not getting it into our water supply. We were required to check it quarterly, but we just switched to monthly,” McGinnis said.

The city says while the amount is relatively small, the presence of PFAS is definitely an issue. There are a few ideas being tossed around to contain the chemical, including a cap in the areas it was found. No plan has been finalized. It is also unclear who will do the remediation work at this point.

The city says they still expect the island to be safe for community use following remediation.

“We’re going to keep moving. Nothing we heard last night gives us any cause for concern that we need to stop or do things differently. We just need to do things with full awareness and knowledge of what’s going on,” McGinnis said.

News 8 reached out GHBLP for an interview Thursday afternoon, but no one was immediately available.

The city of Grand Haven will host two town hall meetings on Aug. 9 and Aug. 11 at 6 p.m. to give the public more information about next steps.

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