PCB-affected canal creates health worries
Neighbors urge action on the contamination
May 17, 2002
BY PEGGY WALSH-SARNECKI
Detroit Free Press
Some St. Clair Shores residents living near a PCB-contaminated
canal say they are afraid the chemical is affecting their
They and others have formed a group to push for more
action in cleaning up lake pollution. They've come up
with a list of demands that they plan to fire at every
federal, state and local government agency they think
"We've been told that this may end up being the second-largest
in the nation and the largest in the state," resident
Donna Hetzel said Monday at a news conference. "But we
can't get any answers."
Officials said they were surprised by residents' claims.
"We have a ton of material out there," St. Clair Shores
spokeswoman Mary Jane Burnell said Thursday. "We have
had resident meetings; the Macomb County Health Department
has a health line, a hot line; we've had the EPA before
the City Council twice; we have a city Web site that has
all types of information; we've had a city newsletter
address a lot of the questions regarding health as well
as letters to the residents."
EPA officials have said the cleanup will begin after
a report on the contamination is released in mid to late
July. Residents say that's too long to wait.
The residents may get some assistance from U.S. Rep.
David Bonior, D-Mt. Clemens. The gubernatorial candidate
is asking the EPA to begin the cleanup immediately.
Meanwhile, the residents are demanding:
- More monitoring of Lake St. Clair and
all canals, drains and sanitary sewers.
- Regulatory agency attendance at a June
5 public forum at Lake Shore High School.
- Designation of the PCB-contaminated
area as an emergency response site.
- A restriction against boating and fishing
in contaminated areas.
- Completion of a health study of those
living in the areas, and free or low-cost testing for
people, pets and property.
- Investigation of lawns and gardens
in the area.
- Enforcement of the Clean Air and the
Clean Water Act.
- Cleanup of the PCB contamination safely,
quickly and effectively.
PCBs, or polychlorinated biphenyls, are toxic at
levels as low as 1 part per million.
Officials say the chemicals were apparently illegally
dumped into the St. Clair Shores storm drains, between
Harper and Lake St. Clair and Bon Brae and Jefferson.
For information, check out www.ci.saint-clair-shores.mi.us.