Not Very Interesting?

Posted by – Steve Cohen, Director of Community Development

Huh?  He said the test results were “not very interesting.”  That’s good, right?

Yes, that’s really good!

Last night, the Planning Commission and Brownfield Redevelopment Authority reported back to the public on the status of the extensive methane gas testing being conducted along Bald Mountain Road.  Our environmental consultant, Bob Lambdin, simply explained that when folks in his line of work look at test results they typically have two reactions to data:  1) “well, that’s interesting!” which is scientist code for “hey, we may have a problem!” or 2) “well, that’s not very interesting” which means “there is really no concern here.”

Mr. Lambdin, flanked by geologist Gregory Barrows representing the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, reassured those in attendance that all indications show that there is no concern for public health or safety at this time.

Bob Lambdin shows City leaders how he personally constructed the 14 monitoring wells used in the testing

Bob Lambdin shows City leaders how he personally constructed the 14 monitoring wells used in the testing

The study was proactively initiated by the City after initial reports indicated that test wells on the former Kensington Church site, located at the southeast corner of Dutton and Bald Mountain Roads, had documented high levels of methane gas.  The finding was a serious concern because if methane gas were to become trapped in an enclosed building it could reach explosive limits and become a hazard to the public.

Since June, the City’s environmental consulting firm conducted 40 monitoring events in 14 permanent wells installed along the right-of-way of Bald Mountain Road and on the Kensington Church site.  The scientific evaluation of the monitoring results indicate that the methane gas appears to be naturally occurring in the area, does not exceed the standards set by the State of Michigan for action, and is not migrating eastward underground from the closed Sanicem Landfill located within the Dutton Corporate Center.  The City will continue to monitor the situation to create a baseline of data for future testing.

So, the good news is that the methane gas situation along Bald Mountain Road is “not very interesting.”  Experts believe the public is safe, which is the best possible scenario we could have found.

Methane Gas Investigation Update Scheduled For December 8th

Posted by – Steve Cohen, Director of Community Development

The City of Auburn Hills has scheduled an informational meeting on Tuesday, December 8th at 7:00 p.m. at the Robert W. Grusnick Public Safety Building to review the results of the methane gas investigation conducted in the vicinity of Dutton and Bald Mountain Roads.  The meeting will be hosted by the Planning Commission and Brownfield Redevelopment Authority.

The following is a summary of findings:

  • A public meeting was held on May 12, 2015 to introduce the study.
  • 14 monitoring wells were installed in June 2015.
  • Sampling occurred on 40 days between June and November 2015.
  • The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) Action Level is 1.25% (by volume) in soil gas.  Corrective action may be required when readings exceed this level.
  • To date, sampling activities have not identified concentrations of methane above the MDEQ action level.  It should be noted that the presence of methane is common in some soils.
  • Methane was detected in all 40 readings in one monitoring well (MW-1) on the site shown in the map below (Sidwell No. 14-01-100-028), but concentrations never reached the MDEQ action level.
  • Four wells had one-time readings over 0.0%, but concentrations in those samples did not reach the MDEQ action level.
  • Monitoring will continue until February 2016 and may be extended if deemed necessary by the MDEQ.

    Map of 14 methane monitoring well locations

    Map of 14 methane monitoring well locations

All interested persons are encouraged to attend the informational meeting.  A representative from the MDEQ and the City’s environmental consultant are both scheduled to be present to discuss the results of the investigation and answer questions.

Methane Gas Investigation Planned

Posted by – Steve Cohen, Director of Community Development

The City of Auburn Hills has scheduled an informational meeting on Tuesday, May 12th at 7:00 p.m. at the Robert W. Grusnick Public Safety Building on the City’s campus to discuss a planned methane gas investigation.  The update will be jointly hosted by the Planning Commission and Brownfield Redevelopment Authority.

Location Map

Location Map

The reason for the investigation is to evaluate the potential source and distribution of methane gas documented at the southeast corner of Dutton and Bald Mountain Roads.  Experts recently found increased methane readings in subsurface wells on the property.

It’s the City’s goal to make all efforts to investigate this matter transparent with the general public.  In the months ahead, environmental testing is anticipated to occur in the vicinity to determine the extent of gas migration.

At this time, experts believe this situation is not dangerous, but should be studied to better understand what conditions exist, locate the source of the methane, and determine if any remedial action is required to ensure safety.

Upon learning this information, the City of Auburn Hills took the precaution to contact and ask the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) to look into the matter.  Methane (CH4) is a colorless, odorless, tasteless, and potentially flammable gas that is widely distributed in nature.  Methane is produced whenever organic material is decomposed by bacterial action in the absence of oxygen.  In rare circumstances, methane can become dangerous and cause explosions and/or asphyxiation.  Like radon gas, methane can migrate significant distances under the ground surface and be forced into enclosed spaces in adjacent buildings by pressure.

Potential Exposure Pathways to Methane Gas (Source: ATSDR)

Potential Exposure Pathways to Methane Gas (Source: ATSDR)

All interested persons are encouraged to attend the informational meeting.  A representative from the MDEQ and the City’s environmental consultant are scheduled to be present to discuss the investigation and answer questions.