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News Releases

News Releases from Region 05

EPA completes two Great Lakes projects totaling $9.5 million to clean up contaminated sediment in Muskegon Lake and Detroit River Areas of Concern

Completed: $6.6 million cleanup at Ryerson Creek Outfall and $2.9 million cleanup at Detroit Riverwalk

Contact Information: 
Denise Fortin (

MICHIGAN (Dec. 29, 2020) – Today, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the completion of two multi-million-dollar Great Lakes Legacy Act (GLLA) projects in Michigan through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI). These two projects remediated a total of 23,600 cubic yards of contaminated sediment within the Muskegon Lake and Detroit River Areas of Concern (AOCs), two of 43 areas identified in the mid-1980s by the United States and Canada as the most environmentally degraded areas in the Great Lakes ecosystem.   

“This is another great example of how effective this agency has been following the priorities of this Administration— the completion of these Great Lakes Legacy Act projects demonstrate that when federal, state, local, and industry partners work together collaboratively, we can solve complex environmental problems and get the job done,” said Region 5 Administrator and Great Lakes National Program Manager Kurt Thiede. “These cleanups in the Muskegon Lake and Detroit River AOCs will significantly advance our efforts to restore water quality in these two important waterways.”

At the Ryerson Creek Outfall in Muskegon, EPA dredged 10,600 cubic yards of contaminated sediment and removed over 2,000 tons of mill debris, and then covered the entire two-acre area with clean sand. EPA completed the $6.6 million cleanup in collaboration with the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE), Muskegon County, Mich., and an industry partner. EPA provided $4.3 million through the GLRI and EGLE provided $1.2 million in cash and in-kind contributions, with the remainder provided through in-kind services from Muskegon County and the industrial partner.  The Ryerson Creek Outfall project was the last sediment cleanup remaining in the Muskegon Lake AOC, bringing the AOC one step closer to delisting.

“The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative continues to successfully rehabilitate areas impacted by legacy pollution,” said Rep. Bill Huizenga, Co-Chair of the House Great Lakes Task Force. “Today’s announcement by the EPA marks another critical step forward in the effort to restore Muskegon Lake. The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative has played a leading role in strengthening the ecology as well as the economy in Muskegon County. The recovery of Muskegon Lake is great news for Muskegon, West Michigan, and the entire Great Lakes Region.”

Along the Detroit Riverwalk, EPA dredged approximately 13,000 cubic yards of contaminated sediment just downstream of the MacArthur Bridge that leads to Belle Isle. EPA isolated and stabilized the contaminated sediment with a “cap” made of clean material. This $2.9 million cleanup was funded through a GLLA cost-sharing partnership with the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy (DRFC). DRFC covered the sediment cap with stone rip rap, which stabilized an aging seawall and provided geophysical support for the future Detroit Riverwalk extension, which will connect Mt. Elliott and Gabriel Richards parks. EPA also collaborated with the U.S Army Corps of Engineers, EGLE, and the City of Detroit to complete this project.

“Since entering Congress, I have prioritized the fight for clean water to ensure that all Michiganders lead healthy and productive lives,” said Rep. Brenda Lawrence. “As a member of the House Committee on Appropriations, I am particularly proud of the role the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative has played in revitalizing Detroit’s waterfront to ensure its safety and accessibility for current and future generations of Detroiters to enjoy.”

These projects are part of the larger effort to restore and protect the Great Lakes through the 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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