FTCH Federal Groundwater Treatment

September 28, 2006
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DALTON TOWNSHIP — Fishbeck, Thompson, Carr and Huber is a familiar name locally, having been involved with scores of environmental projects, architectural and engineering services, and construction management jobs. One of the Grand Rapids-based company’s lesser known projects, however, is for the U.S. government.

The Ott/Story/Cordova Superfund Site’s groundwater treatment facility, operated by FTC&H, is a nearly $2 million annual contract. Located at 453 Agard Road in Dalton Township north of Muskegon, the facility has a staff of seven who work in operations and in the laboratory.

“It’s a large federal contract, which is something we typically aren’t involved with, so that’s a little bit different for us,” said Jim Susan, vice president at FTC&H. “If nothing else for the scale of the process.”

The facility, which treats dangerously contaminated groundwater, handles a million gallons per day; most projects process only 10 to 20 gallons per minute and require attention daily or every few days.

The groundwater contamination is a result of the organic chemical production facility, Ott/Story/Cordova Chemical Co., which used to occupy the 20-acre site.

“Over the years, they had manufactured various chemicals, and given the practices of the ’60s and ’70s, they weren’t as careful as they would have been today, given the disposing of chemicals and so forth,” Susan said.

FTC&H is in the middle of its second contract of operating the treatment facility, which is nearly a decade old. The company’s first five-year contract began in 1999. The Environmental Protection Agency funds 90 percent of the project; the remaining 10 percent is funded by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.

“The facility is funded through the Environmental Protection Agency through their Superfund program,” Susan said. “The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers administers the contract, and the Department of Environmental Quality is a partner.”

Though all FTC&H clients have varying degrees of requirements, Susan said that because of the large size of this project, the federal government requirements were extensive.

“They have some very set rules and regulations,” he said. “They really get into almost every area that you may be involved in.”

Susan said the plant will operate probably another five or six more years.

“From our perspective, it’s been really interesting and fun, actually, to be able to work with the federal government. It’s a little bit novel for us. The collaborative process is great,” he said. “It’s having a huge impact on the water resource in that area.”    

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