Michigan state regulators are seeking more than $775,000 from PolyOne Corp., VCF Films Inc. and the city of Howell, Mich., to pay for the cleanup of groundwater contaminated by a vinyl film plant.
The companies and the city have offered $300,000 and plan to meet with state environmental regulators May 3 to negotiate.
Much of the pollution happened between 1968 and 1973, when the then-owner of the plant — Cadillac Plastics — dumped liquid tetrahydrofuran in a landfill operated by the city, according to Bill Harmon, a district enforcement coordinator with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.
THF also spilled at the plant and contaminated the soil, Harmon said. It is not clear when that happened, several participants in the talks said. The THF leaked into the groundwater, poisoning the wells for about 30 homes surrounding the landfill and requiring the state to spend about $740,000 to put the homes on municipal water systems, he said. The state also wants the parties to pay for its testing and investigation of the site, Harmon said.
The groundwater wells had 420-67,000 parts per billion of THF, while residential drinking water is supposed to have no more than 240 ppb, according to Lansing, Mich.-based DEQ. THF has been linked to skin and respiratory problems, nausea, and kidney and liver problems.
The companies and Howell offered $300,000 because they question whether all the homes had to be put on the municipal water system, said Cristopher Anderson, director of environmental services for Cleveland-based PolyOne.
But PolyOne believes the parties will offer more money, he said: "We feel we have some liability. We want to do the right thing."
As with many environmental cleanups, liability has a long arm. Cadillac sold the plant to VCF in 1973, which has operated it since. M.A. Hanna Co., which later became part of PolyOne, bought Cadillac in 1987 but sold it last year, mostly to GE Plastics. PolyOne retains the liabilities, Anderson said.
Officials with VCF and Howell did not return phone calls seeking comment.