Land use in and around the City of Kingsford (City) has changed significantly over the past 100 years. Prior to the 1920s, the area currently occupied by the City primarily was used for agriculture and timber processing. From the 1870s to the 1920s much of the original forest in the area was cleared.

During the 1920s, the City was incorporated and agricultural land was developed into residential and industrial property. Residential areas were developed south of Breitung Avenue toward the Menominee River and also north of Woodward Avenue. Industrial activity focused on the Ford Motor Company’s wooden auto-parts manufacturing facility (the former plant site), generally situated in an area bordered to the north by Pyle Drive, to the south by Breitung Avenue, to the east by Hooper Street, and on the west by the Menominee River. Activities conducted at the facility included the manufacturing of wooden automobile parts, assembly of automobile bodies and gliders, production of charcoal and wood distillation products.

As development of the City continued, other companies built and operated commercial facilities such as stores, gas stations, and a manufactured gas plant. Existing industries such as timber processing also continued operations.

In 1951, Kingsford Chemical Company purchased Ford's manufacturing facility. Kingsford Chemical Company continued the distillation and charcoal production activities until 1957, when it became Kingsford Company. Production operations continued at the facility until 1961. For several years thereafter, Kingsford Company leased the three plant buildings to other industries that conducted different types of business activities.

Environmental Information

During the operation of the former plant, the former Northeast and Southwest Pits were primarily used for disposal of wastewater from the plant operations. This wastewater contained wood by-products and other natural organic compounds, as well as some suspended solid material. Some solid organic materials remain in the former pits, primarily in the former Northeast Pit. Data collected from the Kingsford Study Area show that some liquid organic compounds are present in the groundwater or have naturally broken down within the groundwater system. The natural breakdown of these wood by-products and other organic materials has contributed to the generation of methane within the Kingsford Study Area.

Groundwater from the former plant site generally flows towards the southwest and vents into the Menominee River. A groundwater extraction and treatment system near the Menominee River was constructed and is operated by Arcadis. The groundwater treatment system appropriately and efficiently treats the extracted groundwater through a process similar to that used by municipal wastewater treatment plants. 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 impacted groundwater in the Kingsford Study Area.

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The State of Michigan, Ford Motor Company and The Kingsford Products Company (Ford and Kingsford Products) reached an agreement in 2004 on a Consent Judgment regarding long-term environmental response and monitoring activities in the Kingsford Study Area. Ford and Kingsford Products have been cooperatively working with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ), local officials and the community to address issues associated with their historical operations in Kingsford since 1998.

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