EPA Reaches Agreement With Two Michigan Companies On $36-Million Kalamazoo River Clean-Up

Georgia-Pacific and Millennium Holdings held responsible for PCB contamination of river.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has reached clean-up agreements totaling $36 million, with two companies, Georgia-Pacific Corp. and Millennium Holdings Inc., responsible for PCB contamination of the Kalamazoo River, the Agency announced Wednesday.

In one agreement, between the EPA, the State of Michigan and Georgia-Pacific and Millennium Holdings, the companies must perform an estimated $21 million cleanup of the Plainwell Impoundment Area, including removal of a portion of the Plainwell Dam.

For the second agreement, between the EPA and the two companies, the two companies will perform about $15 million in additional environmental sampling and investigation throughout the Kalamazoo River Superfund site.

The agreements stemmed from discussions that began in late 2004 among the EPA, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Michigan Attorney General, the Departments of Environmental Quality and Natural Resources, and the two companies.

The discussions are part an ongoing intergovernmental effort to address PCB contamination along an 80-mile stretch of the Kalamazoo river.

"This is an important step forward," said EPA Regional Administrator Mary Gade. "The removal of more than two tons of PCBs near Plainwell is real progress toward recovery of the Kalamazoo River system."

The Plainwell Impoundment cleanup aims to remove 4,400 pounds of PCBs from a 1.5 mile segment of the river upstream of the Plainwell Dam between Plainwell and Otsego.

PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) are toxic chemicals that can concentrate in the food chain resulting in health hazards to people, fish and wildlife. In 1976, Congress banned the manufacture of new PCBs and any PCBs still in use are under strict regulations.

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