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EPA begins new phase of St. Clair Shores drain cleanup

Release Date: 03/11/2010
Contact Information: (EPA) Mick Hans, 312-353-5050, hans.mick@epa.gov (MDNRE) Robert McCann, 517-373-7917, mccannr@michigan.gov (City of SCS) Mary Jane D’Herde, 586-447-3414, maryjane@scsmi.net

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
No. 10-OPA027

(CHICAGO – March 11, 2010) U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 5 has begun a short-term cleanup at the St. Clair Shores Drain site in St. Clair Shores, Mich., northeast of Detroit. The site was also recently proposed to the Superfund National Priorities List. Residents and businesses near the intersection of Bon Brae Street and Harper Avenue may see construction equipment and EPA contractors in required protective gear through May.

The project area includes the 10-Mile Drain portion of the St. Clair Shores storm sewer drainage system, as well as portions of the Lange Street and Revere Street canals that the system drains into—both of which drain into Lake St. Clair. This system drains storm water from a one-half square mile area. The actual drain is an enclosed concrete sewer about 10 feet below street level.

The cleanup will be managed by EPA’s Grosse Ile, Mich., field office. The effort will include:
• Removal and disposal of PCB-contaminated sediment that has collected in the 10-Mile Drain since 2006.
• Removal and disposal of contaminated sediment from the adjacent sewer outfall that leads into the Lange and Revere canals.
• Temporary installation of up to 25 weirs. The weirs are small metal plates in the sewer line which block sediments while allowing water to flow over them. EPA hopes to be able to follow the path from contaminated sediment that collect at the weirs back to the source of the PCBs. Once the project is complete, the weirs will be removed and disposed of properly.

On March 3, the site was proposed for inclusion on the Superfund list. Details on the public comment period that ends May 3 are at http://www.epa.gov/superfund/sites/npl/current.htm. If the site is added to the NPL, EPA will be eligible for the technical and financial resources to fully characterize the extent of the contamination in the sewer system area and develop a comprehensive cleanup plan in consultation with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment and local authorities.

PCB contamination in the storm sewer area first came to EPA’s attention in 2002. From 2002 to 2004, the agency performed a cleanup of contamination in both canals. The city and Macomb County also performed cleanups of the drain and canals. Follow-up sampling of the St. Clair Shores sewer system and the canals showed high levels of PCBs were still present. In 2006, EPA installed a synthetic liner designed to prevent PCB seepage around the cement drain pipe. PCB-contaminated soil was also removed from several yards or public easements along the drainage system. Despite these efforts, the source of the PCBs has not been determined and additional contamination is still entering the drainage system.

Once EPA gains a more complete picture of the contamination and the NPL proposal process wraps up, a public meeting will be scheduled. Residents with questions about the site may contact EPA community involvement coordinator Bob Paulson at 800-621-8431, Ext. 60272, or paulson.robert@epa.gov.

PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) are a group of toxic chemicals that were widely used 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 PCBs in 1976 and those still in use are strictly regulated.
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