Ford Motor Company and The Kingsford Products Company (Ford and Kingsford Products) have undertaken extensive investigations of soil and groundwater conditions in the Kingsford Study Area, which generally is bordered on the north by Woodward Avenue, on the east by Hooper Street, and on the west and south by the Menominee River. Information and results of the investigation activities have been provided to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ).

Click here for a map of the Kingsford Study Area.


Addressing Methane in the Kingsford Study Area

Investigations in the Kingsford Study Area have determined that naturally occurring bacteria in the subsurface break down organic materials, both naturally occurring carbon products and anthropogenic products (derived from human activities), in deep groundwater and generate methane gas in the Kingsford Study Area. The methane formed by these natural processes is initially contained in the deep groundwater as dissolved methane. Because of variations in the geology below the ground surface, groundwater flow, and differences in pressure, methane dissolved in the groundwater can move out of the groundwater into soil below the ground surface as a vapor (methane gas).

Underground silt/clay layers throughout much of the Kingsford Study Area can trap methane gas in sand below the ground surface and prevent it from coming to the ground surface. However, where there are openings in the underground silt/clay layers, methane gas can move to the ground surface. Ford and Kingsford Products are using active and passive venting methods to remove and control the methane gas below the ground surface.


1. Methane Monitoring and Removal

Active vents, also known as soil vapor extraction (SVE) systems, are used to remove methane gas from below the ground surface using a mechanically produced vacuum at various locations in the Kingsford Study Area. These active vents operate under a permit from the MDEQ and meet air quality and safety requirements. Active vents are in place near the intersection of West Breen Avenue and Garfield Street, the intersection of Grant Street and Emmet Avenue, the intersection of Pyle Drive and Knudsen Drive, near the intersection of Lawrence and Breitung, near the Former Plant Site, Lodal Park, and near the RDA. A temporary, mobile active vent has been used, as needed, at additional locations.

Passive vents also are used at various locations to vent methane gas. These passive vents are also operated under the MDEQ air permit. Passive vents use pipes below the ground surface and temporarily installed flagpoles as outlets to safely and effectively release methane gas to the air, under its own pressure or through changes in atmospheric pressure.

Both the active and passive vents are routinely monitored.


2. Methane Programs

In September 1997, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and MDEQ initiated a methane detector program within Kingsford and in a portion of Breitung Township. Installation of methane detectors is a common practice at many locations in the United States. Methane detectors are designed to sound long before a potential safety hazard could develop, and are similar in function to smoke detectors. Methane detectors were distributed to the City of Kingsford and Breitung Township residents located within the Kingsford Study Area.


ARCADIS continues to work with area residents to ensure that methane detectors are functioning properly and are appropriately located. If you have any questions about the methane programs or activities related to the Kingsford Study Area, please call the local ARCADIS office at 906.776.0853. Should your methane detector sound, we urge you to call 911 from a neighbor’s house or outside with a cell phone as a safety precaution.

Click here to view A Homeowner’s Guide to Minimizing Potential Vapor Entry.

Click here to view the Understanding Vapor Control System Pamphlet.

Click here to view the Methane Detector Owner's Manual.

As part of the methane programs, vapor control systems have also been designed to minimize the potential for sub surface methane gas to accumulate beneath a structure. Vapor control systems are a preventative measure and an additional safety factor in addressing environmental conditions.

Free installation of a vapor control system, including building inspections with sealing of cracks or openings in the lowest level of the structure, is part of the long-term environmental response and monitoring activities in the Kingsford Study Area.

The standard vapor control system consists of a three-inch diameter PVC pipe or equivalent, extending through the concrete floor slab of the lowest level of the structure. The pipe is sealed where it comes through the floor and either runs to the outside of the structure through the basement wall and continues along the side of the structure to the roof or from the lowest level to the roof via the inside of the structure. At the top of the pipe, above the roof, is a small wind turbine.

For structures with a crawl space or dirt floor, the standard design is to place and seal a layer of polyethylene sheeting across the crawl space or dirt floor and install the pipe beneath it. The pipe is sealed where it comes through the sheeting and is routed to the outside as described above.

ARCADIS designs the systems in cooperation with the property owner to minimize the appearance of the vapor control system as much as possible. This includes activities such as painting the pipe to match the color of the house and working with the owner to determine the best placement for the pipe.

ARCADIS continues to work with residents and business owners to design and install vapor control systems in structures throughout the Kingsford Study Area. Currently 97 percent of residences have been inspected and 84 percent have allowed the installation of a vapor control system. Inspections have been completed on 99 percent of commercial properties and 92 percent have allow the installation of a vapor control system. Inspections are completed to ensure the systems are properly maintained and functioning.

Click here to view photos of the Methane Detector Program

Click here to view photos of the Vapor Control Systems


Investigation and Remediation of Former Disposal Areas

Previous investigations in the Kingsford Study Area have identified and evaluated several former disposal locations:


Former Riverside Disposal Area (RDA)

The RDA is located in the northwest portion of the Kingsford Study Area, and primarily contains construction debris and charred wood. Ford and Kingsford Products developed an Interim Response Action Plan, or IRAP, for this location. An IRAP is a plan that details a response action that will take place for a specific area while remedies to address the overall Kingsford Study Area are evaluated, developed, and implemented. Ford and Kingsford Products developed and implemented an IRAP for this location in 2002. Activities outlined in the IRAP for the RDA have been completed and this interim response action will be integrated into the final remedy for the Kingsford Study Area.

Activities completed at the RDA included:

  • Consolidation and/or removal of waste materials;
  • Construction of a 30-inch engineered cover of clean soil to prevent contact with any underlying soil and rubbish material;
  • Installation of a road, gutters, water main, and sewer lines to assist the City with planning and development in the area;
  • Building of a community soccer facility at the RDA.

The MDEQ has determined that these completed activities are an appropriate response for the RDA.

Click here to view the Former Riverside Disposal Area IRAP.

Click here to view photos of the Former Riverside Disposal Area


Lodal Park/Former Southwest Pit (SW Pit)

Materials present below the ground surface filling a natural depression that was formerly known as the SW Pit include mostly wood fragments, charred wood, and charcoal. Ford and Kingsford Products developed and implemented an IRAP for this location in 2004.

Environmental response activities that were completed for the Lodal Park/SW Pit area included removal and disposal of select waste materials, building up the existing soil cover to ensure a minimum of 30 inches of clean soil and installing/improving storm water drainage and controls. The MDEQ has determined that the activities completed are an appropriate response for the Lodal Park/SW Pit.

Click here to view the Lodal Park/Former Southwest Pit IRAP.

Click here to view photos of Lodal Park/Former Southwest Pit


Former Northeast Pit (NE Pit)

The NE Pit is an area west of the former Ford and Kingsford Products plant site where organic liquids and solids from the historic wood processing operations were disposed in a former natural depression. Ford and Kingsford Products developed and implemented an IRAP for the NE Pit in 2004.

ARCADIS completed major construction activities at the former NE Pit in accordance with the IRAP. Primary activities consisted of soil excavation, waste consolidation and construction of an engineered cover 30 inches thick consisting of several layers, including clean soil, a waterproof liner and an asphalt surface. This impermeable cover system will keep water from infiltrating through the subsurface materials and will also prevent any potential direct contact. The MDEQ has determined that the activities completed are an appropriate response for the NE Pit. The location is now suitable for use as a passenger car parking lot to facilitate future development.

Click here to view the Former Northeast Pit IRAP.

Click here to view photos of the Former Northeast Pit


Former West Breen Avenue Disposal Area (WBDA)

This former disposal area is located at the western end of West Breen Avenue and was primarily used by City residents for disposal of household wastes. Initial testing indicates that the WBDA is not a significant source of methane gas and that the disposed materials are not affecting groundwater. The MDEQ has determined that no further investigation or characterization is needed at this location.


Former Charcoal Disposal Area (CDA)

This former disposal area is located near Cowboy Lake outside of the Kingsford Study Area. Sampling results have found charcoal, coal and construction debris at and below the ground surface at the CDA. The materials in the CDA are not releasing hazardous substances to the soil, groundwater or air that are above Michigan standards for direct contact or drinking water protection. The MDEQ has determined that no further action is needed at this location.


Groundwater Treatment

Following a number of years of monitoring, testing, and completion of pilot studies, Ford and Kingsford Products constructed a groundwater extraction and treatment system to address affected groundwater.

Construction activities were completed on a full-scale groundwater extraction and treatment system near the Menominee River during Fall 2005. The new plant treats the extracted groundwater and the treated waters are discharged directly to the Menominee River under a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit issued by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ).

Steady-state operation of the system was achieved in early 2006. Monitoring is performed to ensure capture and treatment of the groundwater, including laboratory testing. The treatment plant is equipped with on-site laboratory resources to perform operational testing.

The groundwater extraction and treatment system was designed to treat up to 1,000 gallons per minute. The treatment system currently treats approximately 250 gallons per minute from a network of extraction wells. Since achieving steady state operations, all MDEQ NPDES Permit conditions have been continuously achieved.

Click here to view photos of the Groundwater Treatment Plant


Groundwater Ordinances


Groundwater Wells

The Kingsford City Council has enacted a water well ordinance prohibiting residential water supply wells within the Kingsford Study Area. The ordinance ensures that residents living in the Kingsford Study Area do not use affected groundwater. Currently, no residents living in the Kingsford Study Area have active water supply wells. Instead, all residents use municipal drinking water that is tested regularly by the City to ensure that it meets all federal and state drinking water standards. Breitung Township has also enacted a similar ordinance for the small portion of the Township in the Kingsford Study Area. The municipal drinking water wells are located outside and upgradient of the Kingsford Study Area and the municipal water supply is not affected by the Kingsford Study Area.

Click here to view the Groundwater Ordinances


History of Study Area | Activities | Questions and Answers | Contact Us | Glossary | Photo Gallery | Maps