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Congressional District # 03


EPA ID# MID017075136
Last Updated: January, 2012

Site Description

The H. Brown site is located in Walker, Kent County, Michigan. The 3.5 acre H. Brown Co., Inc. site is an inactive automobile and forklift battery recycling facility with approximately 200,000 cubic yards of soil contaminated by lead and other battery related metals. The site and surrounding area may have been used as a municipal waste disposal landfill before the H. Brown Company began operations on the property in 1961. The site is primarily defined by the soils, contaminated with lead (one soil sample was found to have contained approximately 47 percent lead). Initially, the company's operations involved buying, dismantling, processing, and selling scrap metal and junk. Later, the company focused on reclaiming lead from used batteries. Until 1978, the lead reclamation process involved dismantling batteries and draining battery acid onto an area of the site. Responding to a request by the state, the company installed liquid collection pans and stainless steel storage tanks on the site in 1978 to collect and contain drummed battery acids instead of draining them on the ground. Acid that was stored in the tanks later was taken to an offsite facility for disposal. The company discontinued its lead reclamation activities in 1982. Surface water from the site drains through a ditch to a wetland which then empties into the Grand River one quarter mile east of the site. Approximately 3,000 people live within a three mile radius of the site. The source of municipal water is Lake Michigan with supplementary water drawn from the Grand River each summer. The site and surrounding properties are in the flood plain of the Grand River.

Site Responsibility

This site is being addressed through federal and potentially responsible party (PRP) actions.

Threats and Contaminants

Lead and volatile organic compounds are contaminating the air, groundwater, and soil. Wastewaters on the property contain heavy metals, including copper, nickel, lead, and chromium. Potential health threats include accidentally ingesting or coming into direct contact with contaminated groundwater, soil, or wastewater, or breathing contaminated air. The Grand River and nearby wetlands are threatened by contaminants from the site. 

Cleanup Progress

In the spring of 1991, the potentially responsible parties (PRPs), operating under a Unilateral Administrative Order (UAO) issued by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), erected a fence and performed limited air monitoring. EPA issued a Record of Decision (ROD) in 1992, calling for solidification/stabilization of 200,000 cubic yards of lead contaminated soils, installation of a clay cap over the site, construction of a slurry wall surrounding the site, and investigation of deep groundwater conditions. EPA began a fund-financed design of the remedy in 1993.  EPA conducted a pre-design investigation, which identified the need for a change in the selected remedy. In September 1995, the remedy was amended to call for only capping the site with a solid waste cap and groundwater monitoring. In 1997, the H. Brown property was sold to a developer whose intention was to build warehousing facilities on the property.  On February 25, 1998, EPA signed a ROD Amendment which allowed for the development  project.  The new remedy called for construction of a cover system, comprising three warehouse building foundations, asphalt parking areas, and landscaped areas. The remedy also included groundwater monitoring, land use restrictions, and long-term maintenance of the cover.  If the cover proves ineffective, the ROD Amendment requires construction of a conventional clay cap as called for in the 1995 ROD Amendment. 

On December 23, 1999, the PRPs signed a Consent Decree for Remedial Design/Remedial Action.  Construction began on May 28, 1998.  Construction was complete on September 19, 2000.  The first five-year review for this site was completed on May 20, 2004 and found the remedy protective of human health and the environment.  The second five-year review for this site was completed in May 2009.  The assessment of the second five-year review found that the remedy was constructed in accordance with the requirements of the ROD, ROD Amendments, and ESD. The remedy components of the ROD, ROD Amendments, and ESD are operating as intended and are considered to be protective of human health and the environment in the short-term. The immediate threats have been addressed and the remedy is expected to be protective in the long-term once ICs are fully implemented at the Site.  The third five-year review is due by May 2014.



Remedial Project Manager, U.S. EPA
lolita hill (hill.lolita@epa.gov)
(312) 353-1621

Community Involvement Coordinator, U.S. EPA
susan pastor
(312) 353-1325




Site Profile Information

This profile provides you with information on EPA's cleanup progress at this Superfund site.


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