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Kalamazoo River update: Plainwell dredging begins this week


U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 5 announced today that dredging of PCB-contaminated sediment near the Kalamazoo Riverís Plainwell Impoundment would begin this week. Dredging equipment is expected to be visible on the river by June 7.

EPA and Michigan Department of Environmental Quality will oversee the work of contractors hired by two responsible parties: Georgia-Pacific and Millennium Holdings. The 2007 dredging work will continue through the fall, weather permitting.

The two-year $25 million cleanup agreement among EPA, MDEQ and the responsible parties was announced Feb. 28. An estimated 132,000 cubic yards of sediment will be removed from a 1.5-mile area extending upstream of the Plainwell Dam. A second agreement, between EPA and the two companies, requires the companies to perform about $15 million in additional environmental sampling and investigation throughout the 80-mile Kalamazoo River Superfund site.

Sediment removed from the river will be separated into two waste streams. During 2007, material with PCB content above 50 parts per million will be sent to Environmental Quality Co.ís Wayne Disposal Landfill in Belleville, Mich. Wayne Disposal is a permitted chemical waste landfill that already receives similar material. The dredged sediment containing less than 50 parts per million PCBs is considered non-hazardous solid waste. It will be sent to Allied Wasteís C and C Landfill near Marshall, Mich., which is also a permitted commercial disposal facility. Disposal locations for the 2008 dredging have not yet been determined.

Residents with questions may contact EPA Community Involvement Coordinator Don de Blasio at 800-621-8431, Ext. 64360 (business hours) or

PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) are a group of toxic chemicals that were widely used in carbonless copy paper and as coolants, insulators and lubricants. PCBs are of concern because they concentrate in the food chain resulting in health hazards to people, fish and wildlife. Congress banned the manufacture of new PCBs in 1976 and PCBs still in use are strictly regulated.


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