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EPA and Indiana announce $33 million cleanup of Grand Cal River

Release Date: 10/21/2008
Contact Information: Phillippa Cannon EPA 312-353-6218, cannon.phillippa@epa.gov Amber Finkelstein IDEM 317-232-8512, afinkels@idem.IN.gov

For Immediate Release
No. 08 –OPA167

(Hammond, Ind. - October 21, 2008) Governor Mitch Daniels, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the Indiana Department of Environmental Management and Department of Natural Resources today announced a joint $33.1 million effort to continue restoration of the Grand Calumet River area. The dredging project, the seventh such effort funded by the Great Lakes Legacy Act, will remove contaminated sediment in a 1.1-mile segment of the west branch of the river.

“State, local and federal agencies are collaborating to remediate the contaminated sediment that has long been in the river. This clean up will lead to increased use of the Grand Calumet and improved quality of life for residents and visitors alike,” said IDEM Commissioner Tom Easterly. “The goal of the Grand Calumet dredging project is to remediate and restore areas of contaminated sediment, in order to provide many beneficial uses that are currently not available in the river.”

The plan calls for the clean-up of 91,000 cubic yards of contaminated sediment from a 1.1 mile stretch of the river between Columbia and Hohman Avenues in Hammond. Work will be coordinated with a combined sewer overflow removal by the Hammond Sanitary District that will also result in contaminated sediment being removed from the river.

The Great Lakes Legacy Act will provide $21.5 million, with the remaining $11.6 million coming from a fund managed by the Natural Resource Trustees, which includes the Indiana Department of Environmental Management, the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Trustees are authorized to use non-federal restoration funds from the Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration program to restore natural resources injured by environmental contaminants. The non-federal sponsors to this agreement are state trustees, the Indiana Department of Environmental Management and the Indiana Department of Natural Resources.

The river runs through one of the most heavily industrialized areas in the nation and as a result the sediment contains elevated levels of heavy metals, PCBs, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and pesticides such as DDT.

The river, canal and harbor have been identified as an “Area of Concern” on the Great Lakes by the International Joint Commission.

Areas of concern are severely degraded sites within the Great Lakes where there is significant pollution. Polluted sediment is the reason many Great Lakes fish are not safe to eat in unlimited quantities. It also harms aquatic life and habitat and pollutes sources of drinking water.

“EPA has completed five successful cleanups to date around the Great Lakes under the Legacy Act and is very pleased to begin another in northwest Indiana,” said EPA Regional Administrator Lynn Buhl. “In the last two weeks, Congress and President Bush reauthorized the Act and we look forward to continuing the important work of cleaning up Great Lakes’ rivers and harbors, including the Grand Calumet River.”

Congress passed and the president signed the Great Lakes Legacy Act of 2002 to address the problem of contaminated sediment in American areas of concern on the Great Lakes. So far, EPA has completed five sediment cleanups under the Legacy Act and in the last three months has announced two additional cleanups including this one.

More information about this project and other Great Lakes Legacy Act projects is available at http://epa.gov/glla

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