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Cleanup Work Complete in the Ashtabula River Area of Concern

Release Date: 09/04/2014
Contact Information: Peter Cassell, 312-886-6234, 312-859-9614 (cell), cassell.peter@epa.gov

Ashtabula, Ohio - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced the completion of all cleanup work required to remove the Ashtabula River on Lake Erie from the binational list of Great Lakes Areas of Concern. EPA Region 5 Administrator/Great Lakes Program Manager Susan Hedman was joined for the announcement by U.S. Representative Dave Joyce, Ohio Environmental Protection Agency Director Craig Butler, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army Marie Therese Dominguez and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Midwest Deputy Regional Director Charlie Wooley.

The Ashtabula River is one of 43 contaminated sites on the Great Lakes designated as a Great Lakes Area of Concern by the United States and Canada under the 1987 Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement.

“Today is a great day for the Ashtabula River and for Lake Erie,” Hedman said. “Federal, state and local agencies have now completed all of the work required to remove the Ashtabula River from the list of Great Lakes Areas of Concern.”

Since the early 1990s, the federal government, the State of Ohio and several private companies have spent approximately $85 million to remove contaminated sediment and to restore habitat in the Ashtabula River Area of Concern. Since 2010, almost $14 million from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative has been used to complete the final actions to remediate and restore this Area of Concern.

“The cleanup efforts here on the Ashtabula River should serve as a model for similar projects around the country,” Congressman Joyce said. “This success story demonstrates why we must ensure that the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative receives the funding it needs. I was pleased to help secure $300 million for GLRI this year and will continue to lead bipartisan efforts to protect the Great Lakes, our greatest economic and environmental resource.”

“The cleanup of the Lower Ashtabula River and Harbor Area of Concern has been a long journey but the payoff will be well worth the investment. Ohio EPA commends the partnerships between government agencies and community groups who made the removal of impairments and addition of in-water and riparian habitat restoration possible,” Butler said.

"The Ashtabula River is a great example of a successful partnership,” Dominguez said. “Thanks to the efforts and commitment of local, state and federal governments and organizations, the removal of over 100,000 cubic yards of contaminated sediments will result in the delisting of the Ashtabula Area of Concern, a high priority for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. Today marks the Army Corps' successful completion of an extraordinarily important dredging project which improves navigation, and the environment of the Ashtabula River."

“When it comes to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s work and the work of partners in the Ashtabula River, I believe that our actions here and in other Great Lakes AOCs will be remembered for years to come as the point in history when our country rallied our expertise, our resources and our hope to usher in an era of Great Lakes water stewardship,” Wooley said. “The Service is proud to be a part of this historic endeavor.”

“There’s no substitute for a committed, passionate, tenacious group of people in the community who care,” EPA Senior Advisor Cameron Davis said. “Thanks to them, Ashtabula can be added to the growing list of cleanup completions around the Great Lakes that we all love.”

More information about the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and the Ashtabula River and Harbor cleanup and restoration is available on EPA’s web site:

-http://www.glri.us
-http://www.epa.gov/glnpo/aoc/ashtabula/index.html
-http://www.epa.gov/glnpo/sediment/legacy/ashtabula/index.html