The Bronson Reel Co. began manufacturing fishing reels in 1928 at 505 N. Douglas St. in Bronson, MI. Employees made their own dyes, tools and fixtures in a machine shop. They also did their own plating and anodizing. In 1963, the company was purchased by Bronson Specialties. Production of fishing reels declined and was discontinued in 1968. Although plating operations stopped at that time, metal tooling and other manufacturing operations continued until the early 1990s.
Several local industries discharged plating and other waste into seepage lagoons between 1939 and 1981. An industrial sewer system, owned and maintained by the city of Bronson, was used to transport plating waste to lagoons at the northeast and northwest ends of the North Bronson Industrial Area (NBIA) site. Because of these practices, high levels of heavy metals, PCBs, and volatile organic compounds have been found in private and groundwater monitoring wells, soil, lagoon sludge and sediment.
The Superfund site consists of two lagoon areas and a county drain which run adjacent to the lagoons (referred to as Operable Unit 1 of the NBIA site) and groundwater and an industrial sewer (referred to as Operable Unit 2 for the NBIA site). Although the lagoons are no longer used for waste disposal, they contain about 50,000 cubic yards of heavy metal sludge.