Federal officials hold told The Related Press that they’ve reached a $245 million deal to continue cleaning up a polluted Michigan river
JOHN FLESHER AP Environmental Writer
December 11, 2019, 5: 55 PM
4 min learn
TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. — One of many firms to blame for polluting an 80-mile (129-kilometer) stretch of river and floodplains in southwestern Michigan with toxic chemicals will pay now not lower than $245.2 million to advance a cleanup effort that began bigger than 20 years ago, federal officials mentioned Wednesday.
NCR Corp. will fund the dredging of contaminated sediments and getting rid of of an aging dam within the Kalamazoo River below an agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Company, the U.S. Department of Justice and the verbalize of Michigan, officials told The Related Press forward of an legitimate announcement.
“That is a gigantic step forward against cleaning up the river,” mentioned John Irving, a deputy assistant administrator within the EPA’s Attach of job of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance.
The Kalamazoo is polluted with polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, from paper recycling mills. Frail for ink getting rid of, the chemicals hold been discharged into the river from the 1950s via the mid-1970s. They moreover seeped into groundwater and surface waters from landfills the set aside mill extinguish modified into as soon as dumped.
To boot to to the river, the contamination zone in Allegan and Kalamazoo counties involves a roughly 3-mile (5-kilometer) piece of a tributary known as Portage Creek, besides to mill properties, riverbanks and floodplains. It is miles on the federal Superfund checklist of perilous sites.
Signs posted along the river warn anglers to now not expend the fish they take.
The EPA has overseen the getting rid of of nearly 450,000 cubic yards (344,000 cubic meters) of soil and sediment from the internet site online since 1998, besides to to cleaning up 7 miles (11 kilometers) of the river and riverbanks. Eighty-two acres (33 hectares) of landfills containing PCBs hold been coated with layers of clay, topsoil and vegetation to discontinue the toxins from leaching into groundwater.
But noteworthy remains to be completed. The agreement between NCR and the authorities requires the firm to pay now not lower than $135.7 million for cleanup work that is anticipated to rob an additional 10-15 years.
Among the tasks: dismantling Trowbridge Dam in Allegan County.
The dam, which modified into as soon as constructed in 1898 to form electrical energy to Kalamazoo, is in unhappy shape and has been over-topped by excessive water. It is the best-precedence dam getting rid of planned in Michigan, based on the verbalize Department of Natural Resources, which verbalize aside $2.9 million in May maybe well to obtain the mission underway.
The first step is to stabilize the structure in inform that it could perchance perchance well now not fall down whereas a contractor dredges PCB-laced sediments from a 2.4-mile (3.9-kilometer) river piece upstream, which is anticipated to rob three years, mentioned Paul Ruesch, the EPA’s on-location coordinator.
NCR funds will pay for that work and for razing the dam when the sediment getting rid of is entire, Assistant U.S. Attorney Total Jeffrey Bossert Clark told the AP.
“You want to always obtain that sediment out sooner than taking the dam out, so that you will now not be letting the sediments wash additional downstream,” he mentioned.
The getting rid of of substandard soils in diverse floodplain spots is moreover funded below the deal. And the firm will moreover pay $76.5 million to the EPA to conceal previous and future charges of the river cleanup; $27 million to other federal and verbalize agencies for damages to natural sources; and $6 million to the verbalize for previous and future charges.
The proposed settlement modified into as soon as filed in federal court docket Wednesday. The public will obtain 30 days to reveal, after which the authorities agencies might maybe perchance well design revisions sooner than soliciting for final court docket approval.
NCR spokesman Scott Sykes mentioned the firm had no reveal.
The agreement represents a chief milestone within the total cleanup, which is anticipated to entire up costing about $851 million, Clark mentioned. Price negotiations are continuing with other firms that portion responsibility for the pollution, together with Georgia-Pacific, World Paper and Weyerhaeuser.
The Kalamazoo River mission is amongst those on the Superfund checklist designated by the Trump administration for particular attention thanks to cleanup delays, Irving mentioned.
“This settlement represents gargantuan development within the cleanup and restoration of the Kalamazoo River,” mentioned Liesl Clark, Director of the Michigan Department of Setting, Mountainous Lakes and Energy. To boot to to conserving public properly being and theatmosphere, she mentioned, this would perchance perchance fund “initiatives to revive natural sources and abet compensate the public for misplaced recreational alternatives within this major Southwest Michigan watershed.”
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