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The federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) and the Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) have a cooperative agreement for conducting assessments and consultations regarding potential health hazards at toxic chemical contamination sites within the State of Michigan. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ), Superfund Section, has asked the MDCH to evaluate any health risks associated with several properties included in the Brownfield Pilot Projects in Detroit and other cities in Michigan.

A Brownfield parcel is an abandoned property, formerly used for industrial or commercial purposes, that some industrial or commercial entity has expressed an interest in acquiring for future use. The local governmental entities have asked the MDEQ to conduct environmental assessments of the Brownfield properties in their jurisdiction. The MDEQ has consulted with the MDCH concerning public health aspects of these assessments.

The MDCH health consultation for a Brownfield property includes consideration of the following fundamental questions:

  • Are there any imminent or urgent threats to public health associated with the property?
  • Does the proposed future use of the property pose any long-term public health hazard?
  • What specific actions, if any, are necessary to make the property safe for future use?
  • Is there enough information available to answer these questions, and if not, what additional information is needed?


The Honneger's Grain Elevator property, in Mount Pleasant, Michigan, was the site of grain storage and milling operations from the 1880s to 1990, when the main mill building burned. During the fire, one of six transformers on the roof of a nearby building exploded. Sampling and analysis of oil from all six transformers found no polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).

Based on the available information and data, the property would pose no apparent public health hazard if it were developed for industrial or commercial uses. There are physical hazards on the property, which we recommend be eliminated during the redevelopment.


The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) has asked the Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) to evaluate any health risks associated with the Honneger's Grain Elevator property as part of a Brownfields Pilot Project.

The Honneger's Grain Elevator property is at the corner of Broadway and Oak Streets in Mount Pleasant, Michigan (Figure 1). Grain storage and milling operations occupied the property from the 1880s until October 1990, when the main building on the property burned down. There are reports that the last owners/operators had abandoned the mill at some time before the fire. Title to the property reverted to the State of Michigan in lieu of unpaid taxes in October 1994 (1).

The property is bounded by Broadway Street on the north, Oak Street and residential areas on the east, Mill Street and more residential areas on the south, and a railroad right of way and the Chippewa River on the west.

The foundation of the burned-out main mill building is still visible on the property. Between the foundation and Broadway Street is a tall square concrete tower. Northwest of the foundation is a brick building, with six transformers on the roof. One transformer exploded during the fire mentioned above. Samples of the oil from all six transformers were later analyzed for polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and none were found (detection limit 1 part per million [ppm]). There are two wood buildings, a truck scale, and an above-ground storage tank on the property south of the foundation. There is an electrical substation in the northwest corner of the property (1).

Along the north side of Broadway between Oak Street and the Chippewa River, across from the Honneger's property, are an old creamery building on the east, a large vacant area, a municipal well house, and a restaurant at the river.

In 1992, a developer wrote to the MDNR, expressing an interest in redeveloping the Honneger's Grain Elevator property and the old creamery property across the street, using the State's Site Reclamation Program funds. The project was never initiated. MDCH and MDEQ do not know what use is intended for the property (2).

In June 1997, the MDEQ carried out field work for a Brownfields Redevelopment Assessment (BFRA) of the property (1, 3). While the MDEQ was there, MDCH staff also visited the property.

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