June 9, 2022
wastewater plant

The Ionia Public Utilities Department oversees water supply, water distribution and wastewater treatment operations for the city of Ionia, MI and the surrounding area. Due to their highly trained staff and commitment to excellence, the department’s facilities are regularly used for tours and training by the State of Michigan.

In 2019, the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) pulled samples from the digestive septic solids of the city’s wastewater treatment facility and found PFAS contamination. It was determined that the issue was caused by an electroplating facility that had discharged liquid waste into the wastewater system without knowledge that it contained high levels of PFAS. Because the waste solids generated during the water treatment process were used as fertilizer by local farmers, EGLE informed the City of Ionia that the issue must be addressed immediately, and any PFAS-contaminated waste be removed from the system.

Once the origin of the PFAS contamination was discovered, the electroplating facility ceased discharging any liquid waste into the city wastewater system. With a continuing commitment to the safety of the community, its citizens and compliance with PFAS regulatory guidance, Ionia city leaders called on a respected consulting firm in Grand Rapids to assist in finding companies to partner with the municipality in addressing the PFAS issue. Knowing US Ecology’s record for service excellence and industry-leadership with PFAS, the engineering firm contracted us to work with the city to compliantly transport and dispose of the PFAS-contaminated waste.

With colder weather moving in, the city of Ionia needed the project to be completed within a short timeframe as the tank water and sludge were beginning to freeze. Despite the cold weather conditions, the 1.6-million-gallon tank was efficiently emptied and cleaned to remove the PFAS contamination. The expedient, safe and thorough work of our professional crew enabled the city to stay compliant with EGLE environmental standards and over 1,700 tons of PFAS-contaminated waste solids were safely transported and disposed of in US Ecology’s subtitle C landfill in Belleville, MI.

By immediately addressing the PFAS issue through the compliant removal, transportation and disposal of the contaminated waste solids, the Ionia Department of Public Utilities can continue to treat the city wastewater and the collected waste solids can be once again used as fertilizer in area agriculture, incurring little to no cost to the city. The dedicated work done by both US Ecology and the city workers of Ionia ensures continued reduction of their environmental impact as it eliminates the need to dispose of their wastewater sludge as a contaminated material.  

Wastewater Treatment

As PFAS regulations continue to change and evolve, many municipalities are working to remain compliant with EGLE environmental standards. US Ecology’s successful collaboration with the City of Ionia has led to additional partnerships with other municipalities throughout the state to address similar issues, such as an upcoming project to remove 1,800 tons of PFAS-contaminated waste from a city water system in Michigan’s upper peninsula. As more and more municipalities begin addressing PFAS contamination issues, our team of experts work closely with federal and state regulators to assess the evolving regulatory framework surrounding PFAS management and develop solutions to help city leaders both achieve compliance and ensure peace of mind to the surrounding community through permanent waste disposal options that end the PFAS mobility cycle.

Through the support of government funding for large-scale PFAS remediation projects, engineering and consulting firms have partnered with US Ecology to deliver comprehensive, single-source expertise to industries within the public and private sector on a wide variety of site services managing remediation projects from start to finish. We have successfully completed hundreds of environmental remediation projects ranging from low-level radiation decontamination and excavation to on-site remediation, Superfund projects, treatment and removal of contaminated soils and offer the most integrated environmental services and disposal package in the industry.

US Ecology offers multiple, innovative turnkey solutions for PFAS-contaminated waste, including arid-climate secure disposal, deep-well injection, thermal treatment, remediation, transportation and more. To learn more about our PFAS waste solutions, contact us at (800) 592-5489 or visit us online at www.usecology.com/services/treatment-disposal/pfas-waste-solutions.