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EPA: Georgia-Pacific to fund new cleanup work at Michigan's Kalamazoo River Superfund Site

Release Date: 06/09/2009
Contact Information: EPA) Mick Hans, 312-353-5050, hans.mick@epa.gov (EPA) Don de Blasio, 312-886-4360, deblasio.don@epa.gov

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
No. 09-OPA103

(Chicago - June 9, 2009) U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 5 and Georgia-Pacific have reached agreement on a new phase of cleanup to address Michigan's Allied Paper/Kalamazoo River Superfund site. The estimated $10 million project 3.5 miles upstream from the now-completed Plainwell Dam cleanup is slated to begin in August and continue through late 2010.

The administrative order on consent signed by Georgia-Pacific was negotiated by EPA in consultation with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. G-P will perform the cleanup under EPA oversight.

"This agreement follows two very productive years of PCB-contaminated sediment removal downstream at the Plainwell Dam," said Regional Superfund Director Richard Karl. "Georgia-Pacific deserves credit for stepping up and keeping the momentum going."

Though initially Millennium Holdings partnered with G-P to perform the Plainwell Dam work, Millennium has since filed for bankruptcy protection and is not a party to the agreement for cleanup at Plainwell Dam #2.

The work, like the $25 million Plainwell Dam effort that began in 2007, will be performed as a Superfund Removal Action. The new project targets 12,000 cubic yards of waste material, containing nearly 90 percent of the PCBs near the Plainwell #2 Dam. The work will involve dredging and/or excavation of contaminated sediment, riverbank soil and floodplain soil, water quality monitoring and treatment, and stabilization and off-site disposal of the contaminated material. Waste with PCB concentrations at 50 parts per million or more will be sent to a chemical waste landfill. Waste with levels below 50 ppm will be sent to commercial landfills.
The complete Kalamazoo River Superfund area stretches 80 miles from Saugatuck on Lake Michigan to the Morrow Dam. The recently completed Plainwell Dam work removed 4,700 pounds of PCBs from the river system. To reach this volume, 128,665 cubic yards of sediment was removed. Of this total, 20,930 cubic yards of material contained waste above 50 ppm.

PCBs, or 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 PCBs in 1976 and PCBs still in use are strictly regulated.

For information on the Allied Paper/Kalamazoo River Superfund site, please visit http://www.epa.gov/region5/sites/kalproject.

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