[Date Prev][Date Next][Date Index]

GLIN==> Good and Bad News on the Fox River PCB Cleanup

Posted on behalf of Alice McCombs <tarawins@ezwebtech.com>

Good and Bad News on the Fox River PCB Cleanup

>From Clean Water Action Council of Northeast Wisconsin
For immediate release: Oct. 1, 2003

Green Bay, WI --- The Clean Water Action Council expressed
both relief and concerns over today's announcement of an
interim $50 million settlement with P.H. Glatfelter's Company
and Wisconsin Tissue Mills to pay for PCB-contaminated
sediment cleanup in Little Lake Butte des Mort, at the head of
the Lower Fox River in Northeast Wisconsin.

"We're grateful funds are being provided without a legal battle,
and that the Lake cleanup may be more rapid than previously
thought," stated Rebecca Katers, Executive Director of Clean
Water Action Council. The project on Little Lake Butte des
Morts may require only 2-3 years now, rather than the 7 years
originally projected.

"On the other hand, we're very concerned that the cleanup
standard is too weak and will not provide even minimal public
health and wildlife protection downstream," added Katers.

The Lake project would require the companies to dredge down
only to a 1 ppm PCB cleanup target, when the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency and Wisconsin Dept. of
Natural Resources both acknowledged that 0.25 ppm PCB target
is the "most cost-effective PCB action level that meets
protective thresholds." Local fish will still be unsafe to eat,
even after the "cleanup." If they would dig just a little deeper
and wider in each hotspot, the fish consumption warnings could
be lifted decades earlier. Removal of more PCBs would also
prevent PCBs from escaping downstream in the future to
continually contaminate the lower river and Green Bay.

The agencies are misleading the public, claiming their project
will achieve a 0.25 ppm AVERAGE concentration of PCBs on
the surface of the sediment. This means hotspots of 10 ppm or
more could be left behind, as long as statistical averages over
the entire lake can be achieved. And that 10 ppm could extend
several feet deep (including hundreds of pounds of PCBs)
without affecting their AVERAGE surface concentration.

"This is the wrong way to measure the river cleanup's
effectiveness. The cleanup should eliminate the MASS of
PCBs, not focus on a temporary surface concentration. That
surface could erode downstream tomorrow. What matters is the
total amount of PCBs remaining in sediment pockets which will
continue to erode downstream for years into the future. The
cleanup should remove each entire PCB pocket (even 10 feet
deep), to eliminate potential for future erosion and
recontamination downstream. This means dredging down to
remove all sediments with concentrations higher than 0.25, not
just achieving a 0.25 ppm "average.")

"Keep in mind that our recommended 0.25 ppm PCB cleanup
target is already a compromise that does not achieve full public
health protection - but at least it would allow fish consumption
advisories to be lifted, at a minimum," added Katers.
Another serious concern is the governments' approval to cap
PCB contaminated sediments in place with sand and gravel, if it
is deemed less expensive during the design phase.

"A cap would be just a temporary fix, leaving the PCBs for our
grandchildren to clean up in the future. This is would set a
terrible precedent," concluded Katers. "Wisconsin rivers should
not be used as permanent toxic dumps by private corporations."

For more information, please visit Clean Water Action
Council's website onthe PCB problem, at
http://www.FoxRiverWatch.com <http://www.foxriverwatch.com/>
or call Rebecca Katers, 920-437-7304 (work) or 920-468-4243

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
glin-announce is hosted by the Great Lakes Information Network (GLIN):
To subscribe: http://www.glin.net/forms/glin-announce_form.html
To post a message: http://www.glin.net/forms/glin-announce_post.html
To search the archive: http://www.glin.net/lists/glin-announce/
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *