Dec 28, 2000

PCB Cleanup in Manistique River Almost Complete

Dredging to remove PCB contaminated sediment from the Manistique River and Harbor is almost complete, officials from the EPA said Tuesday.

A Chicago based EPA Superfund emergency response team conducted the $44 million project. Dredging operations began in 1996, resulting in the removal, to date, of about 130,000 cubic yards of waste.

"The Manistique River and Harbor site represents one of the biggest PCB sediment cleanups to date in the Great Lakes," regional Superfund director William Muno said. "The responsible parties, Manistique Papers and Edison Sault Electric, deserve credit for stepping up and contributing to the cleanup, and we thank the community for their attention and interest throughout the process."

The cleanup site encompassed the entire 1.7 mile span of the Manistique River and Harbor where it empties into Lake Michigan. The river sediment was contaminated by PCB discharges from several suspected sources from the late 1950s until the late 1980s. The EPA team expects to complete all cleanup activities, including site demobilization, by the end of the year. Then, EPA will develop a follow up monitoring plan, to be implemented in 2001.

PCBs -- polychlorinated biphenyls -- are a group of toxic chemicals that were once used as industrial coolants, insulators and lubricants. PCBs can concentrate in the environment and the food chain resulting in health hazards to humans, fish and other wildlife. Because of these dangers, the U.S. Congress banned the manufacture of new PCBs in 1976, and regulated PCBs still in use.

Source: Environment News Service