Superfund Site Profile

The second issue of the Pine River Progress Newsletter is now available!


The Velsicol Chemical Corp. (formerly the Michigan Chemical Corp.) produced various chemical compounds and products at its 54-acre main plant site in St. Louis, Michigan, from 1936 to 1978. Products included the fire retardant polybrominated biphenyl (PBB) and the pesticide DDT. To address contamination discovered at the former plant site, a consent judgment was entered into by Velsicol, EPA and the State of Michigan in 1982. Velsicol agreed to construct a slurry wall around the former plant site and put a clay cap over it. The Pine River borders the former main plant site on three sides and was known to also be significantly contaminated. The river sediment pollution was addressed at that time by the State of Michigan, which issued a no-consumption advisory for all species of fish in the Pine River. The fish advisory remains in effect today.

From 1998 to 2006, a variety of actions taken at the site addressed contamination in the Pine River at a cost of over $100 million. From 1998 to 2006, EPA funded a sediment cleanup in the Pine River adjacent to the site. Over 670,000 cubic yards of DDT contaminated sediment was removed from the Pine River and disposed of off-site in an approved landfill. DDT levels in fish have been reduced by over 98 percent, but the State of Michigan plans to keep the fish advisory in place until the entire site has been remediated.

In 2006, studies showed that the slurry wall surrounding the former plant site and the clay cap installed over it were failing to keep contamination on the site and out of the river. EPA and Michigan's Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) then launched a remedial investigation and feasibility study at the main plant site, designating it as operable unit 1 (OU-1) and Pine River sediments as OU-2. The report was released in 2006. It stated that soil and groundwater at the site are contaminated with a variety of chemicals. An additional investigation to more fully define the nature and extent of contamination was completed and a feasibility study issued in 2011. In June 2012, EPA selected a final remedy for OU-1, which includes both the cleanup of contaminated soil in residential areas and a comprehensive cleanup of the main plant site. In addition, both EPA and MDEQ are completing a Remedial Investigation downstream of the former chemical plant property through a new operable unit, OU-3.