MIAMI – A GHD Engineering crew contracted by Michelin North America, Inc. has been at the former BF Goodrich tire manufacturing facility in Miami this past week plugging and abandoning 17 monitoring wells as approved by the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality both on and off-site.

 

These wells are used to monitor a benzene plume located 14 to 24 feet beneath the BF Goodrich property which is now owned by Michelin North America, Inc. The tire manufacturing plant opened in the 1940s and closed in 1986.

 

The benzene plume on the site encroaches from the commercially owned property to city right-of-ways and residences on K Street, L Street and M Street in the northwest area of Miami.

 

Benzene is a natural constituent of crude oil and an organic chemical compound which was used at the BF Goodrich manufacturing plant in the tire production process. Most non-industrial applications of the chemical have now been limited by benzene's carcinogenicity, but it is still used to make plastics, resins, synthetic fibers, and types of lubricants, rubbers, dyes, detergents, drugs and pesticides.

 

These plugged and abandoned wells have historically tested below the site Preliminary Remediation Goals (PRGs) and have recently only been utilized to measure water levels, according to GHD officials.

 

GHD's secondary task will be to perform maintenance on the existing monitoring wells in the area the company recently treated. This maintenance will include brush cleaning the interior of the monitoring wells and the re-development of these wells located along Goodrich Boulevard.

 

GHD will return to the site this week — Wednesday, Feb 17, and Thursday, Feb. 18 — to conduct a groundwater monitoring event.

 

The monitoring wells approved for plugging and abandonment at the site are Monitoring Well (MW)-13, MW-14, MW-25, MW-27, MW-28, MW-29, MW-33, MW-34, MW-46, MW-47, MW-48, MW-58, MW-59, MW-61, MW-63, MW-69, MW-75 and MW-77 according to Erin E. Hatfield, Public Information Manager for ODEQ.

 

“These wells are no longer needed for monitoring purposes,” Hatfield said. “Wells in and adjacent to the contaminated ground water will continue to be monitored.”

 

ODEQ is overseeing the continued efforts of mitigation and monitoring of the benzene plume by GHD Engineering.

 

“The plugging and abandoning of these wells was approved on Oct. 13, 2015, as part of a work plan for In-Situ Chemical Oxidation (ISCO) of the benzene in the ground water under the facility footprint,” Hatfield said. “The work in the past year has included ground water monitoring, preparation and refinement of the ISCO Work Plan for DEQ approval, and securing the various approvals required. The first reagent injection activity, described as Phases 1 and 2 of the four-phase ISCO Work Plan, was completed on Oct. 15, 2015.”

 

Many years ago the City of Miami filed suit against Michelin, the owners of the BF Goodrich Manufacturing plant in Miami, and entered into the agreement at that time, around 1988, over environmental concerns.

 

Michelin never owned or operated the plant but aquired the responsibility of remediation of the property after its aquisition of The Uniroyal Goodrich Company around 1990.

 

The agreement requires that BF Goodrich and Michelin as the successor and title holder of the property, adhere and follow the requirements of ODEQ with regard to remediation efforts.

 

The former BF Goodrich plant has been in various stages of demolition under the guidelines of the Oklahoma Department of Labor for asbestos removal and the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality for other environmental issues.

 

The Blakeney Company, Inc., the contractor responsible for the demolition of the former BF Goodrich tire manufacturing site, filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy leaving much of the clean up work unfinished. George R. Blakeney, sole shareholder and director of Blakeney Company, Inc., submitted a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing to the Northern District Court of Alabama on June 10 of 2015. Real Estate Remediation, LLC of Tuscaloosa, Alabama a subsidiary of the Blakeney Company was responsible for the demolition project.

 

The bankruptcy filing came before the multi-million dollar, multi-phase, demolition effort was completed which began more than a year ago at the former tire factory.

 

On April 30, 2015, DEQ issued an 11-page administrative compliance order to George Blakeney citing multiple issues of non-compliance regarding his handling of regulated and non-regulated materials at the site. The order also cited Blakeney’s refusal to sign a consent order proposed by DEQ in February of 2015.

 

Real Estate Remediation, LLC, also an Alabama company affiliated with George Blakeney, acquired the BF Goodrich site from Alan Kaspar via a purchase and sale agreement dated May 7, 2014, according to a Aug. 13, 2014, Breach of Contract petition filed by Kaspar in Ottawa County District Court. In that case, Blakeney has been cited with contempt of court for failure to appear for deposition and failure to provide for inspection and copying of relevant documents.

 

The City of Miami continues to work with ODEQ toward enforcement actions.

Melinda Stotts is the associate editor of the Miami News-Record. She can be emailed at mstotts@miaminewsrecord.com.