Belding’s Mueller Industries clean up efforts finalized by MDEQ

By Cory Smith • Last Updated 11:20 am on Thursday, May 31, 2012

Mueller Industries, located at 302 Ashfield St., Belding, has been cleared of any further cleanup efforts after the state officially accepted Mueller Industries’ No Further Action Report in April. — Daily News/Cory Smith

BELDING — After holding a fourth and final public meeting Wednesday night, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) announced it has officially accepted Mueller Industries’ No Further Action Report.

“As of today, all of the residential properties to the east of the Mueller Industries-Extruded Metals facility meet the state lead clean-up standard for residential property,” Chris Christensen of the MDEQ Remediation Division said. “We appreciate the cooperation we have received from Mueller Industries over the years. Mueller has really stepped up. This is a success story that needed to be told.”

For Mueller Industries, located at 302 Ashfield St. in Belding, all changes began to take effect after the Environmental Protection Agency lowered the ambient air standard for lead in 2008.

According to Christensen, after placing an air monitor on Merrick Street to the east of Mueller Industries, air sampling determined Mueller’s emissions exceeded the new standard.

In October 2010 the MDEQ remediation division committed to soil sampling, and after collecting 375 screenings and 10 lab soil samples from 51 properties, some contamination was found.

In May through June 2011, Advanced GeoServices performed remedial investigation on 49 properties for Mueller and identified 12 properties for remediation. The MDEQ added an additional four properties to that report.

According to Christensen, 436 tons of lead impacted soil were excavated to a minimum depth of 3 inches at 16 properties using a combination of a vacuum truck, mini-excavator, and hand shovel.

“Clean topsoil, that was evaluated for organic content, as well as the ability to promote and sustain grass growth, was backfilled into the excavations and hydro-seeded,” Christensen said.

By Oct. 26, 2011, remediation was completed.

“We are confident that the soil has been restored to levels that meet the national standards for lead contamination,” Christensen said. “For those who still don’t see grass growing in their yards, that is more than likely due to poor soil content as opposed to lead contamination.”

Other actions which had to be completed by Mueller Industries included changes to the company’s airborne lead emissions.

According to Eric Grinstern of the  MDEQ Air Quality Division, in 2009 stack testing showed the exceedance of permitted emission limits for the companies west chip dryer.

“A violations notice was issued to Mueller and Mueller started making modifications to the air emission control equipment,” Grinstern said.

In August 2010, Mueller Industries stopped operating the east chip dryer with no plans to put it back into operation.

In September 2010, Mueller Industries installed an enhanced air emission scrubber system on the west chip dryer.

In October 2010, stack testing showed compliance with the permitted emission limits for the west chip dryer.

To demonstrate its compliance with the revised National Ambient Air Quality Standard for lead, Mueller Industries submitted an air permit application in 2011.

“That air permit was issued to Mueller with several key additions,” Grinstern said.

The biggest change, according to Grinstern, was the increase in the the west chip dryer stack to 122 feet from 42 feet, which was installed in January of this year.

According to Grinstern, the chip dryer stack will be tested every five years and two air monitors in downtown Belding will remain in place for at least three years. At that time, depending on the levels recorded by the monitors, the monitors could be removed.

Christensen closed Wednesday night’s meeting saying that he doesn’t anticipate any major future problems arising with Mueller Industries, but if any come to fruition, he is confident Mueller will cooperate fully.

“Our history with (Mueller Industries) has been good and we will ask them to do some additional sampling if necessary,” he said. “If it comes to that, we think they will step up, but we don’t anticipate that happening.”

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