Want to Advertise With Mike and Jon? Click Here to Learn More!

Mike & Jon New Logo Small

Search the Latest Local News

State lists Hamburg Township Wastewater Treatment Plant as PFAS “generator”

The Hamburg Township Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) has been identified as having PFAS levels above state standards.

PFAS are a large group of human-made chemicals that have been widely used in fire-fighting foams, stain repellents, nonstick cookware, waterproof clothing and a variety of other consumer goods. They do not easily break down in the environment and are a known human contaminant with links to various cancers.

Michigan adopted tougher new standards in 2020 following a review of toxicology standards that began in 2018.

Located at 6400 East M-36, the WWTP has been in operation since 1966 discharging treated wastewater under a state Groundwater Discharge Permit issued to Hamburg Township. 

The plant uses a treatment system that consists of sequencing batch reactors, a chemical feed system, and a polishing pond. The final treated effluent is then discharged to the groundwater on-site via rapid infiltration basins.

According to the Michigan PFAS Action Response Team (MPART), groundwater samples were collected in August and November 2022. The highest results were 27 ppt for PFOA (compared to the state maximum of 8 ppt), and 22 ppt for PFOS (compared to the limit of 16 ppt).

Officials say the groundwater in the area of the plant then flows towards Buck Lake and the Huron River.

“Most of the residential homes and commercial businesses in the area are on drinking water wells,” stated the MPART website. “In November 2022, the township sampled the drinking water from Dairy Queen, which is southeast of this site.   The results were non-detect for PFAS.  Hamburg Township plans to sample additional drinking water wells in the area as determined necessary. EGLE will continue to work with Hamburg Township to evaluate the groundwater, drinking water, and surface water in the area of the WWTP to assess PFAS risks.”

In preparation for the release of this data, Hamburg Township officials passed a pair of resolutions at their January 17th meeting making clear that the WWTP is not the original source of the PFAS.

“WHEREAS EGLE has categorized wastewater treatment plants that exceed the MCL standards for PFAS as Part 201 sites and “PFAS generators”….Hamburg Township states that they are not a PFAS generator, only a pass through, and object to Part 201 status,” states the resolution. “Hamburg Township also states that polluters should be held liable for all of the sampling, testing, and possible remediation costs that the Township will incur. Furthermore, Hamburg Township has serious concerns about the longterm implications of PFAS limits on biosolids removal from the wastewater treatment plant and the serious financial harm that it may bring.”

Part 201 refers to a provision of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act (NREPA) and serves as the state’s primary environmental cleanup program, providing the regulatory framework for the majority of contaminated sites in Michigan and includes enforceable standards for PFAS in groundwater.

However, as MLive has reported, the state’s PFAS cleanup rules are under a legal cloud after a November ruling by a Court of Claims judge invalidated them in response to a challenge by PFAS manufacturer 3M Corp. However, the judge did not immediately prohibit their continued use as there was a public health interest in staying the order.

A further resolution passed unanimously by the board “places a moratorium on selling sewer taps to known, or future identified PFAS generating businesses until such time definitive direction is given from EGLE.”

Another document on the township’s website notes that to “ensure the health and safety of our residents, Hamburg Township is testing drinking water wells and wastewater for PFAS.” However, it also states that the testing is “expensive,” while “Treatment of residential and commercial wastewater for PFAS is extremely costly. This could incur a raise in sewer charges.”

Hamburg Township Supervisor Pat Hohl told GIGO News that at last count there are over 130 ground water WWTPs in Michigan that have PFOS in their discharge. 

“All ground water discharge plants in Michigan that have been tested have been identified,” said Hohl. “The PFAS/PFOA, long-chain carbon fluorine module group of chemicals is ubiquitous and wide spread. We have not only cooperated with EGLE, we have been very proactive in working to sample wells in the area.  The health hazards are well documented.”

Hohl pointed to a recent study from Lancaster University in the United Kingdom that measures PFAS levels in core samples taken from Antarctica, which showed a level far higher than what the WWTP is indicating.

“Our plant discharges less PFOS than the background level in Antarctic snow,” said Hohl. “The point of our Resolution was to focus on an effective and collaborative approach, by all involved, that has the greatest health and safety benefits to the general public.”

Don't Miss A Thing!

Join the GIGO family and get updates on the latest Livingston County News!

Subscribe to Livingston County News Alerts

More Stories Around Livingston County

LCCA recognizes responsible alcohol retailers

The Livingston County Community Alliance has recognized area retailers for responsibly selling alcohol. The alliance , in conjunction with the Livingston County Sheriff’s Office,  has