The same highly alkaline contamination that forced sections of Little Traverse Bay shoreline in the Bay Harbor resort to close has been discovered in the water off Resort Township’s East Park. A recent discovery by the US Environmental Protection Agency suggests that corrosive seepage from historic cement kiln dust piles is contaminating a public area, the Traverse City Record-Eagle reported Thursday. The local health department closed two sections of shoreline within the private Bay Harbor community last year. It issued a public health alert over highly alkaline seepage into the bay "similar to a very strong bleach" and capable of causing caustic burns on contact.
The Northwest Michigan Community Health Agency is awaiting the EPA laboratory testing results, spokeswoman Jane Sundmacher said. If elevated pH is confirmed, the department may take action similar to the public health advisories and shoreline closings ordered at Bay Harbor, she said.
The 35-acre East Park, owned and operated by Emmet County’s Resort Township, was purchased through the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund in the mid-1990s. The park property, like Bay Harbor next door, held cement kiln dust piles from the former Penn-Dixie cement plant that operated on the shoreline for decades.
CMS Energy, a former partner in the Bay Harbor development, has accepted responsibility for cleanup of the kiln dust seepage contamination, which company officials estimate will cost more than $45m.