Allied Paper, Inc/Portage Creek/Kalamazoo River Superfund Site Information pageContact: Paul Bucholtz
The sediments, water column, soils and biota in and adjacent to an 80 mile stretch of the Kalamazoo River and a portion of Portage Creek are contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) estimates that this area contains over 110,000 pounds of PCBs and over 8 million cubic yards of contaminated river and floodplain sediments. PCB-contaminated waste from the paper making industry was also placed in four disposal areas near the river. Without action, PCBs will continue to migrate into the environment from some of these areas due to erosion and surface water runoff. Migration of PCBs is contributing to the ongoing contamination of the water column and biota, in and near the Kalamazoo River and Lake Michigan. A fish consumption advisory has been in place since the 1970's. For other fish advisories in the State of Michigan see Fish Consumption Advisory.
In 1990, in response to the quantity and extent of PCB contamination, the Allied Paper, Inc/Portage Creek/Kalamazoo River Superfund site (the API/PC/KR) was officially included on the National Priorities List (NPL) pursuant to CERCLA. The NPL site description boundary, used for listing purposes only, includes a 3-mile stretch of Portage Creek from Cork Street to its confluence with the Kalamazoo River, and from this confluence downstream to the Allegan City Dam. Data clearly indicate that PCBs have migrated farther downstream than the Allegan City Dam and that PCB sources are present upstream of Portage Creek. The site was therefore expanded to include approximately 80 miles of river from Morrow Lake Dam to the mouth of the Kalamazoo River at Lake Michigan (see map). The site includes properties presently or previously owned and operated by the potentially responsible parties (PRPs). The state identified PRPs for the contamination of this site including: Millennium Holdings, Inc./ Allied Paper Company, Georgia Pacific Corporation, Plainwell Paper Inc., and the Fort James Corporation. Collectively they formed the Kalamazoo River Study Group (KRSG). Under an Administrative Order by Consent (AOC) with the State of Michigan, the KRSG began a Remedial Investigation (RI) to identify the nature and extent of PCB contamination. The draft Remedial Investigation/ Feasibility Study report created by the KRSG was rejected by the MDEQ July 11, 2002. In MDEQ's opinion, the remedy preferred by the KRSG did not meet the threshold criteria of the National Contingency Plan, nor was it consistent with the AOC.
In a letter dated July 24, 2001, the MDEQ asked the federal government to designate the Kalamazoo River Superfund site as a "Federal Lead" site, which occurred in February 2002. The U.S. EPA controls critical aspects of the remedy selection process. The MDEQ will continue to have significant input to the decision on appropriate cleanup. The MDEQ met with U.S. EPA's Contaminated Sediments Technical Advisory Group (CSTAG) on April 16, 2002. A position paper and presentation were given to help the group complete its consultation process. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources also gave a presentation to the CSTAG outlining their goals for a successful river cleanup. The CSTAG will help project managers make scientifically sound decisions for river cleanup, and made several recommendations to the U. S. EPA project manager.
A human health risk assessment and ecological risk assessment were completed by MDEQ and updated into 2003. The risk assessments show contaminants at the site pose unacceptable risks to human health and the environment.
Also, nearly 660 comment letters were received on the KRSG's draft RI/FS during the public comment period. The community comments were summarized and sent to U.S. EPA. There will be another opportunity for comment when the U.S. EPA issues a Proposed Plan (outlining the preferred cleanup remedy). DEQ and U.S. EPA will consider citizen comments in evaluating the public's acceptance of the various cleanup alternatives. Public acceptance is one of nine criteria by which the U.S. EPA will select a cleanup remedy.
In anticipation of the needs of the National Remedy Review Board, who will ultimately review the cleanup remedy, the U.S. EPA collected additional sediment samples in two impoundments. They are attempting to determine if there are isolated "hot spots" of PCB contamination, and whether additional cleanup alternatives should be evaluated.
To request a copy of the U.S. EPA Removal Assessment report contact Paul Bucholtz, Senior Project Manager, Superfund Section, PO Box 30426, Lansing, MI 48909 or 517-284-5072.
Portage Creek Information Bulletin In 1998 & 1999 a Time Critical Removal Action took place in a portion of Portage Creek. 150,000 cubic yards of contaminated sediment were removed.
Georgia-Pacific Mill Lagoons
King Mill Lagoons
King Street Storm Sewer
Area near King Highway Landfill