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News Releases from Region 05

EPA announces $2.9 million Great Lakes project to clean up contaminated sediment in Detroit River, enabling expansion of city’s Riverwalk

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Allison Lippert (

DETROIT (April 14, 2020) – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has signed a $2.9 million agreement to remediate contaminated sediment along the Detroit River in Detroit, Michigan. The contaminated sediment is within the Detroit River Area of Concern (AOC), identified by the United States and Canada as one of 43 toxic hotspots in the Great Lakes basin. Work will be funded through a Great Lakes Legacy Act cost-sharing partnership with the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy.  

“EPA is proud to play a role in the transformation of Detroit’s riverfront through a public-private partnership under the GLRI,” said Regional Administrator and Great Lakes National Program Manager Kurt Thiede. “This sediment cleanup will allow for further expansion of the Detroit Riverwalk, creating recreational space for the city while bringing the Detroit River AOC one step closer to delisting.”

“Throughout my time in office, one of my main priorities has been to fight for a clean and safe environment for my constituents,” said Congresswoman Brenda Lawrence (MI-14). “Once again, the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative proves to be an invaluable resource for improving our Great Lakes, and in this case, providing Detroiters with a new space to enjoy the riverfront free from contaminants.”

The project will remediate approximately 13,000 cubic yards of contaminated sediments located along the Detroit River just downstream of the MacArthur Bridge that leads to Belle Isle. EPA will isolate and stabilize the contaminated sediment with a “cap” made of clean material. The Detroit Riverfront Conservancy will cover the sediment cap with stone rip rap, which will stabilize an aging seawall and provide geophysical support for the riverwalk.

The Conservancy has agreed to contribute up to 35% of the project cost of $2.9 million. Construction is slated to begin this summer.

“This project is a significant step in realizing our vision of a connected riverfront,” said Mark Wallace, president and CEO of the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy.  “Once the sediment cap is in place, we can connect two of our most popular parks on the riverfront and create a direct link to Belle Isle.” 

This project is part of the larger effort to restore and protect the Great Lakes through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI). In October 2019, EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler announced the GLRI Action Plan III, an aggressive plan that will guide Great Lakes restoration and protection activities by EPA and its many partners over the next 5 years.

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