Traverse City Record-Eagle

Archive: Friday

January 18, 2013

Marathon agrees to site cleanup

Company to submit a plan to treat source of oil by-products

MUSKEGON TOWNSHIP (AP) — Marathon Petroleum Co. has agreed to start cleaning up the source of oil byproducts under a former refinery site in West Michigan, and the company expects to submit a plan to state regulators later this year.

Petroleum products under the 100-acre Old Dutch/Aurora refinery site in Muskegon County's Muskegon Township have contaminated downstream groundwater and a county drain that empties into the Mona Lake watershed, The Muskegon Chronicle reported

Details of the overall cleanup plan haven't been determined, and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality must approve Findlay, Ohio-based Marathon's plans. Marathon spokesman Shane Pochard said the company expects to submit a plan to the MDEQ no later than early spring.

Under the agreement, the plan "may include cleanup, removal, disposal, on-site treatment, off-site treatment, active remediation, passive remediation, and/or remediation alternatives." That phase of cleanup is expected to start as soon as the summer.

Meanwhile, Marathon this month started work on a smaller-scale project designed to protect Muskegon County's Barnes Drain. That work is due to be completed by the end of the month. The drain flows into Little Black Creek, which empties into Mona Lake.

Water in the area for years has had a sheen of oil and the smell of gasoline has been noticeable nearby. Marathon engineers believe a new seal will stop oil-based contaminants from seeping into the culvert and from the culvert into Barnes Drain.

All the work is part of a November agreement that included Marathon and Muskegon County Drain Commissioner David Fisher. For more than a year, Fisher has been pressing Marathon about the site, and he said the source of the contamination needs to be addressed.

"I think Marathon deserves a level of credit that they're finally addressing what they need to do," Fisher said.

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