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Hawks Grocery sale delayed by environmental concerns

The possible sale of Hawks Grocery will be delayed until the state can do an environmental assessment on the property.

The assessment could lead to a full clean-up effort.

The State of Michigan is considering providing the assessment and action, at no cost to the new owner, or Presque Isle County. The project would be paid for by the state via the Brownfield Redevelopment Reassessment Program.

The site is contaminated with petroleum, in the groundwater and soil, Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy Brownfield Coordinator Julie Lowe said. She said the small business, which is still open, is the type of project the state is looking for to address environmental contamination.

She said state policy requires a municipality to file the application to have the assessment done, which the board voted to do.

“We are interested in doing more site investigation, and eventually we are going to do our best to do cleanup activities,” Lowe said. “We would pay for a consultant to do phase one, and then use that and existing data to do phase two. Then the baseline assessment would be done. We want to get this cleaned up, but we have some hoops we have to jump through.”

Lowe said the groundwater is migrating under the road toward the wetlands. She said the wells on the property were tested, but there were no wells in the path of the water’s patch.

Lowe said the results showed there were no exceediences detected.

The store and the neighboring gas station have both had releases of petroleum over the years, Lowe said.

Presque Isle Treasurer Bridget LaLonde voiced her concerns about the county filing the application on behalf of Donna Bruning, who is seeking to acquire the store.

LaLonde wanted to make sure the county would have no unintended costs or liability for the study and eventual cleanup.

Lowe assured her that this project was going to be done by the state, and the only liability anyone would face would be the private parties who caused the escape of the contaminate, if it is ever determined who owned the property at the time.

“We want to make it into a state-funded site, so we can pay and get it cleaned up. You don’t have any liability because you don’t own the property,” Lowe said. “If we do find a private party who is liable, we do have cost recovery and ways to work with liable parties to get things cleaned up.”

It is unknown how long it will take for the assessment to be done, or when cleanup could commence.

Steve Schulwitz can be reached at 989-358-5689 or at sschulwitz@thealpenanews.com. Follow him on Twitter @ss_alpenanews.

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