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Congressional District # 02


EPA ID# MID020883609
Last Updated: March, 2015

Site Description

The Northernaire Plating Company (Northernaire) Superfund site is located in the Cadillac Industrial Park, which covers approximately a square mile along the northern border of the city of Cadillac, in Wexford Country, Michigan.  Northernaire was a small electroplating facility that operated on 13 acres of land in the southwest portion of the industrial park. From 1971 to 1981, Northernaire did custom chromium and nickel plating work on metal parts. Improper waste handling and faulty sewer systems led to the release of hexavalent chromium and cadmium into the soil and groundwater.

The municipal well field for the city of Cadillac is located about 1,300 feet northeast of the Northernaire site and draws water from a deep bedrock aquifer. The municipal well field has not been affected by contamination from the site.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) placed the Northernaire site on the National Priorities List (NPL) on September 8, 1983.

Site Responsibility

The Northernaire site has been addressed through a combination of federal, state, and potentially responsible party (PRP) actions.

Threats and Contaminants

Groundwater at the Northernaire site was contaminated with heavy metals such as cadmium and chromium. Prior to cleanup, soil was contaminated with heavy metals and sediment was contaminated with cadmium, chromium, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). People who trespassed on the site and accidentally ingested or came into direct contact with contaminated soil or sediment could have been exposed to these pollutants.  Drinking or coming into direct contact with contaminated groundwater may have posed a health threat. 

Due to implemented remedial actions, however, there is no remaining groundwater contamination associated with the Northernaire site.

Cleanup Progress

In 1983, EPA conducted a removal action at the Northernaire site. Chemical vats, drums, and other containers were removed from the Northernaire building and disposed of off-site. EPA also excavated about 120 feet of leaking sewer line outside the building. The state of Michigan completed the cleanup of major contaminants using federal funds in 1988. The state removed over 1,000 cubic yards of soil, additional sewer piping, and a portion of the building floor.

Michigan conducted a groundwater investigation at the site and found that the groundwater contamination from the Northernaire site is commingled with that from other facilities in the industrial park, including another facility designated as an NPL site - the Kysor Industrial Corporation (Kysor) site.  Impacted groundwater has migrated northward toward a residential area north of the industrial park in Haring Township.  Contamination in the groundwater has also migrated downward, impacting both the shallow and intermediate aquifer in the vicinity.  The municipal well field for the city of Cadillac is located about 1,300 feet northeast of the Northernaire site and draws water from a deep bedrock aquifer but the municipal well field has not been affected by contamination from the site.

Following the groundwater investigation by the state and completion of the cleanup design by the PRPs under an EPA order in 1995, EPA issued three Administrative Orders for Remedial Action to six industrial and individual PRPs. These orders addressed groundwater cleanup of the Northernaire site in combination with the cleanup of the groundwater beneath the Kysor site.

Cleanup activities included construction of an 18-well groundwater extraction system, a groundwater treatment system, including air stripping and carbon adsorption; associated collection and discharge piping; a soil vapor extraction system with a vapor phase carbon adsorption for contaminated soils at the Kysor site; and removal of approximately 1,000 cubic yards of contaminated soil at another property in the industrial park. All construction was completed by September 1996.

Currently, the groundwater system is treating about 2,000,000 gallons of water per day and then is discharging to the Clam River. The system continues to operate as designed. 

EPA completed the third five-year review (FYR) at the Northernaire site in September 2005 and determined that the site remedy remains protective of human health and the environment over the short term. The FYR report stated that long-term protectiveness of the remedy would not be achieved until institutional controls (ICs) were implemented to restrict the installation and use of private wells in Haring Township. In addition, EPA recommended that confirmation should be made that the extraction system was capturing all contaminated groundwater from the Cadillac Industrial Park and achieving cleanup goals within the groundwater plume.

Testing results show that all groundwater monitoring wells tested for chromium have been in compliance with the required target cleanup level (TCL) of 50 parts-per-billion for hexavalent chromium since May 2001. The effluent discharge to the Clam River has also been in compliance since that time.

In September 2010, EPA completed the fourth FYR at the Northernaire site. The data review confirmed that all groundwater monitoring wells tested for chromium remained in compliance with the TCL. The location and pumping rates of the groundwater extraction wells, which will continue to operate due to the nearby Kysor site VOC contamination, will ensure that any remnants of a chromium plume will not migrate beyond the groundwater extraction and treatment system.

The fourth FYR report detailed that the remedy has achieved the remedial action objectives (RAOs) for the site and that no ICs are necessary to protect human health or the environment. The remedy is therefore protective in both the short and long term. As a result, EPA will not conduct any future FYRs at the Northernaire site.

EPA is currently completing the Final Close Out Report (FCOR) for the site, which will signify that the RAOs have been achieved. Following approval of the FCOR, EPA plans to delete the site from the NPL in 2016.

Property Reuse

In January 2008, EPA determined that the Northernaire site was ready for reuse and that it was not necessary to place ICs on the property to protect human health or the environment.  However, the chromium groundwater contaminant plume from the Northernaire site was located in the same area of the Cadillac Industrial Park as the Kysor Industrial Corporation site. The groundwater in this area is contaminated with VOCs from the Kysor site.

The majority of facilities in the Cadillac Industrial Park are still operating and future use of these properties is predicted to be industrial. Certain areas of the Cadillac Industrial Park, such as along Leeson Avenue, contain commercial establishments.  No recent activities have occurred concerning property reuse.


Remedial Project Manager, U.S. EPA
sheila sullivan (sullivan.sheila@epa.gov)
(312) 886-5251

Community Involvement Coordinator, U.S. EPA
cheryl allen
(312) 353-6196




Site Profile Information

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


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