Mancelona Pollution Plume

FWF Header ltrhead 022010.jpg

FWF Header ltrhead 022010.jpg

Mancelona Trichloroethylene Contamination

What has been described as one the world’s largest plume of trichloroethylene (TCE) contamination, extending nearly 6 miles and with a current footprint of over 4,000 acres, has contaminated drinking water wells in a rural, low-income community in northern Michigan, Mancelona.  One estimate has put the size of the contaminated aquifer at 13 trillion gallons. 

Key stakeholders worked for several years, ultimately deciding to install a municipal water and sewer system to provide safe drinking water, but not clean up the plume. 

TCE contamination of groundwater in North America is extremely common.  In Michigan alone, there are 300 known sites (38 TCE sites can be found within Bay, Clare, Genesee, Gratiot, Isabella, and Saginaw Counties). Nationally, there are 761 Superfund sites that involve TCE.  There are undoubtedly many more that are not Superfund sites.  Very recently (Sep 28, 2011), the EPA released a final health assessment for TCE.  The final assessment characterizes the chemical as carcinogenic to humans as well as a human noncancer health hazard.

Freshwater Future is recruiting graduate students to assess this situation, research and identify solutions to address this pollution and improve the environmental health of this community.  Not only will this study address the one of the largest TCE contamination sites, it has the potential to help communities in North America and beyond to effectively and affordably clean up groundwater by providing model processes for addressing the issue.

Project Goals:

·         Assess the environmental impact of TCE in the Cedar River and the watershed (Chain of Lakes, Torch Lake).  At what concentration does it harm the health of the river and its biota?  Does TCE in the Cedar River and the Chain of Lakes create a problem in Lake Michigan?

·         Model the extent of the TCE Plume and assess the environmental hazard of the TCE, including estimating the potential volume of TCE in the aquifer.                                                               

·         Assess the impacts of these sites on the health of residents nearby, the economic impact on property values, and loss of business.

·         Provide Recommendations for clean up and providing safe drinking water for residents.

·         Create a logic model that other communities could use to help them address their TCE contamination.

            International Association of Great Lakes Researchers 2013 Conference--Mancelona Presentation

             Mancelona Plume Background (Plume Maps plus more)

Engineering Study of the Site by MACTEC

FAQ from August 2005, ACUTE







Freshwater Future