Department of Natural Resources
Dec. 11, 2019
|A group of state and federal natural resource trustees is soliciting Kalamazoo River watershed restoration project ideas that could be funded through a proposed $25 million agreement with NCR Corporation to partially settle natural resource damage claims stemming from past discharges of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) into the river in southwest Michigan.
The Kalamazoo River Natural Resource Trustee Council for this site (the “Kalamazoo River Trustees”) includes:
|In addition to partial settlement of natural resource damages with the Kalamazoo River Trustees, the proposed consent decree requires NCR to conduct cleanup actions, pay an additional amount for future cleanup actions and reimburse state and federal agencies for response and damage assessment costs.
Under the proposed settlement, the Kalamazoo River Natural Resource Trustee Council will use the $25 million to plan and complete several environmental restoration projects. These projects will be selected with public input and based on the restoration criteria described in the Final Restoration Plan and Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement for Restoration Resulting from the Kalamazoo River Natural Resource Damage Assessment, available on the Kalamazoo River webpage. The public is encouraged to submit habitat and recreational restoration project ideas through the restoration portal.
|“Funding from this settlement will help us build on improvements to Portage Creek and the Kalamazoo River as they are cleaned up and we restore river and floodplain habitats to benefit fish, wildlife and the people who use these resources," said Charlie Wooley, Great Lakes regional director for the USFWS. “We look forward to continued collaboration with our partners and local communities on these efforts.”
Throughout the late 1950s and into the early 1970s, paper mills conducting carbonless copy paper recycling released PCBs into the soils, sediments, floodplains and surface water in the Kalamazoo River and Portage Creek. This resulted in injuries to natural resources including fish, mammals and birds. In 1990, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency named the area a Superfund Site by adding it to the National Priorities List. The state of Michigan continues to issue fish consumption advisories, recommending people do not eat or at least limit the amount of fish they eat from areas of the site affected by PCBs. The most current advisories are available in the Southwest Michigan Eat Safe Fish Guide.
"We are proud to join this agreement with industry and our co-trustees to help restore this Great Lakes Superfund site,” said Nicole LeBouef, acting assistant administrator for NOAA's National Ocean Service. “With public input, we look forward to restoring clean habitats and robust fisheries that will benefit wildlife and local communities and economies.”