Ostsego city dam will be removed as part of EPA's cleanup plan at Allied Paper site

(Cropped Photo: Nevit Dilmen / CC BY-SA 3.0)

A $46 million plan to clean up PCB contamination from a paper mill on the Kalamazoo River in Otsego, Mich., will include removal of the Otsego city dam and a realignment of the river.

Contaminated soil and sediment will be cleaned up under the plan to address the Allied Paper Inc./Portage Creek/Kalamazoo River Superfund site.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently signed a “record of decision” for the cleanup of the 1.9-mile stretch of the Kalamazoo River between the former Plainwell Dam and the Otsego city dam, known as Area 2 of operable unit 5 of the Superfund site. The cleanup addresses polychlorinated biphenyl, or PCB, contamination in sediment and soil from historic paper recycling operations.

In a written announcement on the project, EPA officials said the agency plans to negotiate an agreement to ensure that responsible parties pay for and implement the cleanup.

The contamination results from paper mills along the Kalamazoo River and Portage Creek that, beginning in the 1950s, recycled various types of paper stock. Those operations included the recycling of carbonless copy paper, which contained the PCBs that were released into the mills’ waste streams and eventually to the Kalamazoo River. In 1990, the government added the site to the National Priorities List, a list of the worst contaminated sites in the country.

The cleanup project is expected to take five years to complete and will include realignment of the Kalamazoo River to create a single stable channel; riverbank and floodplain soil excavation; and capping the upstream channel areas that will be cut off from the main channel when the dam is removed. Fish consumption advisories will remain in effect, and the EPA will continue long-term monitoring of surface water, fish tissue, and sediment, the angency said in the announcement.

To learn more about the plan visit the EPA's Superfund site.

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