Allegan Metal Finishing Co., in the aftermath of the 2015 fire that detroyed it. (File photo)

EPA may sue to test Allegan Metal Finishing land

By: 
Ryan Lewis, Editor

Owners of the former Allegan Metal Finishing Co. have so far refused to sign an access agreement for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Allegan Township supervisor Steve Schulz told board members Monday, March 4, that meant the federal agency was now faced with pursuing a federal lawsuit to test the property for contaminants.

Since a massive fire that destroyed AMFCO in March 2015 along M-89, three residential wells turned up levels of the carcinogen that exceeded the 100 micrograms-per-liter drinking water limit set by the EPA. One detected at 22,000 micrograms per liter, according to the EPA.

The EPA funded a $500,000 construction project to extend city water lines to those homes along Jeffrey Drive and 29th Street. Construction wrapped up at the end of November; some landscaping remains for the spring.

The township spent $70,000 to cover the cost of the engineering for the project.

The EPA has not yet announced details of its investigation as to the source of the chromium. It is used mainly for making steel and other alloys. Since chromium compounds are also used for chrome plating, Schulz has speculated that AMFCO is a likely source for the contamination.

“So I asked the EPA about doing an investigation,” Schulz said.

He read from an email from EPA’s on-scene coordinator Tricia Edwards, “My attorney has made multiple attempts to gain access to the... property so that I can conduct a site assessment. We need to conduct sampling to determine if there are threats on the property that need to be addressed.”

He said Edwards said the owners had been unwilling to sign an access agreement.

“So now we will be forced to take it to the (U.S. Department of Justice) to gain access through the courts. This could be a very slow process.

“...eventually we will get on site and sample.”

Schulz said, “I hope it happens in my lifetime; I hope they get in there.”

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