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Case Summary: EPA Orders $25+ million Cleanup Along the Kalamazoo River

On April 15, 2016, EPA issued a unilateral administrative order (UAO) to three companies requiring cleanup work valued at $25 – $30 million for removal of polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) contaminated sediment and soil from a 1.7-mile stretch of the Kalamazoo River. This stretch of the river, upstream of the Otsego Township Dam in Otsego, Mich. is part of the Allied Paper Inc./Portage Creek/Kalamazoo River Superfund site. The UAO was issued to Georgia-Pacific, Weyerhaeuser, and International Paper.

The cleanup work began in late summer 2016 and is expected to be completed by spring 2018. Once the contaminated material is removed, workers will test and monitor the area, backfill areas with clean soil, and restore the area with native plants.

On this page:

Information about the companies

Georgia Pacific, a pulp and paper company headquartered in Atlanta, is one of the world's leading manufacturers of tissue, pulp, paper, packaging, building products, and related chemicals. Georgia Pacific owned and operated paper mills and disposal areas which are located upstream of the Otsego Township Dam Area.

International Paper is the corporate successor to St. Regis, which owned and operated the Bryant Mill at a time when the mill was recycling carbonless copy paper and thereby disposing of PCBs at the site. Bryant Mill was located upstream of the Otsego Township Dam Area.

Weyerhaeuser Company is one of the largest pulp and paper companies in the world. Weyerhaeuser owned and operated the Plainwell Paper Mill, which was located upstream of the Otsego Township Dam Area.

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Information about the Allied Paper Inc./Portage Creek/Kalamazoo River Superfund Site

The Allied Paper Inc./Portage Creek/Kalamazoo River Superfund Site is located in Allegan and Kalamazoo counties in Michigan. The site includes soil and sediment contamination in disposal areas, paper mill properties, about 80 miles of the Kalamazoo River (from Morrow Dam to Lake Michigan), including adjacent riverbanks and contiguous floodplains, as well as a 3-mile stretch of Portage Creek. The PCB-contaminated sediment and soil resulted from paper manufacturing and disposal operations that stopped in the late 1970s and early 1980s. EPA added the site to the National Priorities List (NPL) in 1990.

More information is available on the Allied Paper Inc./Portage Creek/Kalamazoo River Superfund site profile page.

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Information about pollutants and environmental effects

The primary site contaminant, PCBs, is a hazardous substance and probable human carcinogen. The primary risk at the site is through the consumption of PCB-contaminated fish. Fish advisories have been developed by the state of Michigan and fish advisory signs are posted throughout the Kalamazoo River. Other risks and pathways addressed by the cleanup include health risks to people, birds and animals from ingesting or touching PCB-contaminated soil and sediment.

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Summary of the Unilateral Administrative Order

Under the order, the cleanup work conducted by the three companies will include removing contaminated sediment and riverbank soil from the river, stabilizing riverbanks to prevent future contamination and erosion, and disposal of contaminated materials at approved landfills.

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Contact Information

For more information, contact

Nicole Wood-Chi
Associate Regional Counsel
312 886-7950

Chuck Mikalian
Associate Regional Counsel
312 886-2242

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Region 5
Ralph Metcalfe Federal Building
77 West Jackson Blvd.
Chicago, IL 60604-3590

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