Health Department Amends Ripley Advisory for Winter

RIPLEY – The Western Upper Peninsula Health Department (WUPHD) has temporarily suspended a warning to avoid activity on a section of the snowmobile trail owned by the State of Michigan running through the Julio scrapyard property. The primary public health concern related to recreational use of the trail was exposure to asbestos and other potential hazards contained in the trail surface. Recent snowfall has sufficiently covered the trail, reducing the risk of exposure to these hazards. This temporary suspension is in effect for the current snowmobiling season expected to last through March 31, 2020 or as weather allows. The previous advisory is still in effect for all other non-trail areas of the Julio scrapyard.

WUPHD is working with local, state, and federal partners to reach a long-term solution to this issue. For more information, please contact the Western Upper Peninsula Health Department at (906) 482-7382.

Please note: This advisory amendment does not affect flood related trail closures; the trail section from Dollar Bay to Lake Linden remains closed due to flood damage, additional information regarding trail section closures can be obtained from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources by calling (517) 242-3773.

Original Advisory:

The Western Upper Peninsula Health Department (WUPHD) has issued a warning for people to avoid activity in areas on or near the Julio scrapyards in Ripley. This warning includes sections of the ORV trail owned by the State of Michigan. The ORV trail has been negatively impacted by physical and chemical hazards from the nearby Julio scrapyards, these hazards have the potential to cause trail users illness and injury.

The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy has conducted sampling of the area and a public health evaluation of the hazards has been done by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.  The sampling and evaluation has concluded that numerous physical and chemical hazards are present in the Ripley waterfront area including polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB’s), lead, mercury, and asbestos, in addition to other physical and chemical hazards. Of special concern is the presence of asbestos containing material on or near the ORV trail, as ATV’s and other trail users agitate the soil, the asbestos fibers can become airborne in dust and travel beyond the contaminated properties.  Use of the trail should be avoided as exposure to asbestos can cause damage to the lungs and increase the risk of developing cancer.

Until notified otherwise, the public is asked to avoid all activities on the Julio scrapyard properties.  Also, the public is asked to avoid activities including ATV use, walking, biking, etc., on the ORV trail adjacent to 3 Julio scrapyard properties located approximately 1/3 of a mile both east and west of the Julio Contracting office in Ripley.

WUPHD is working with local, state, and federal partners to reach a long-term solution to this issue. For more information, please contact the Western Upper Peninsula Health Department at (906) 482-7382. Health concern related questions can be directed to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services at 800-648-6942.