CAG Raises Concerns about Air Quality Monitoring at House Street Construction Site
By Tammy Bergstrom
As preconstruction work gets underway at House Street, air quality monitoring at the contaminated site was a topic of concern at a recent meeting of the Wolverine Community Advisory Group.
Members of our group, which includes House Street residents, are concerned about the proposed fugitive dust plan, which does not provide adequate protection for the House Street residents. We are additionally worried that our concerns may not be addressed.
CAG member Rick Rediske, researcher and former professor at Annis Water Resources Institute, outlined specific concerns following an update on the project from EGLE Senior Environmental Quality Analyst Leah Gies.
“I just want to make sure that EGLE understands – that Wolverine and GZA understand – that the plan is not good the way it is,” Rediske said.
His review found the plan deficient in three areas:
- the number and location of monitoring stations,
- the absence of procedures for public notification of exceedances, and
- the lack of specific information on instrument calibration
CAG member and House Street resident Sandy Wynn-Stelt said superior air monitoring during the project is critical for the health of residents, who have already been exposed to high levels of PFAS through years of well water consumption.
“We have the same concerns in the neighborhood about the air quality issue, about how we’re going to be protected,” she said. “I’m very worried, because we’ve already had extraordinarily high levels of exposure. So even what would be minor exposure to others, it’s going to be very detrimental to us.”
Gies said that although the fugitive dust plan is not subject to a public comment period, the agency will “make sure (GZA) gets your comments and make sure we follow up in our meetings with them.”
Rediske and others expressed frustration that an informal process may not be sufficient. He noted a previous meeting with GZA seemed to go well, but was dismayed when there was no follow up or further communication about issues he raised about the Tannery Interceptor System.
“We may not get an answer. I had a nice meeting with them, and they never responded. To be honest, I provided questions, the same questions I provided you before, and I never got an answer,” he said.
Rockford resident Lynn McIntosh, who attended the meeting, noted the importance of being vigilant throughout the process and not relying solely on the agency to ensure safe processes. “The unfortunate thing is, winds and waters, when they come, it’s hard to predict. I remember taking pictures (of the tannery demolition in 2010) and sending them to EGLE and by the time pictures get there, by the time you send an email, the event might be over. And then you look back at the picture and it’s, ‘well there’s nothing we can do now; we can just tell them to be more careful next time.’ Which is completely unsatisfactory.
“It took vigilance on the part of citizens to keep getting things taken care of.”
In addition to expressing concerns at the meeting, the CAG agreed to send a formal, written request to EGLE representatives. The request can be seen here: Wolverine CAG Air Monitoring Plan – Construction Phase [link]
Rediske noted in the comment letter that there was no monitoring station located near the Northeast corner of the site where a residential neighborhood was situated. He also presented an analysis of the prevailing winds and showed the potential impact of the construction activities to residential receptors.
Also attending the meeting was April Lazzaro, EGLE air quality inspector, who will be responsible for monitoring the project. She invited people to contact her if they see issues or have air quality concerns. She can be reached at lazzaroA1@michigan.gov or (616) 558-1092.
Gies said preconstruction work, including staging of equipment, is in process, with the major construction to begin in the spring. The project is expected to be completed in December 2025.