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Great Lakes Article:

PCB hunt in Shores narrows
Investigators find high concentration in drain on Harper
03/14/2002

By Gene Schabath / The Detroit News

   ST. CLAIR SHORES -- A concentration of PCBs comparable to some of the nation's Superfund contamination sites, has been found in a St. Clair Shores drain, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said Wednesday night.
   A PCB reading of 33,000 parts per million was found last Friday in the drain at Harper and Bon Brae and touched off an intensive effort by investigators to find the source.
   "The 33,000 parts per million are a concern of mine," EPA coordinator Kurt Grunert told about 300 people at South Lake High School in St. Clair Shores. "Based on my experience, I would say it was fairly recent. That's why we are concentrating on Harper and Bon Brae."
   PCBs, or polychlorinated biphenyls, were used decades ago as coolants and lubricants in the manufacture of electrical transformers and capacitors.
   Scientists have linked PCBs to forms of cancer, but Macomb County Health Department Director Thomas Kalkofen said the risk is low unless people swallow them.
   Grunert is coordinator of a 60-member federal, state and local task force trying to track down the source of the PCB that has been found in the 258-acre storm drain system as well as in two canals that empty into Lake St. Clair.
   "PCB's of this level are what you find at the worse Superfund areas," said Linda Schweitzert, professor of environmental chemistry at Oakland University. "That's 33,000 times above the level that is safe."
   Grunert said the public is in no danger because the PCB is underground in an enclosed drain. The PCBs will be removed from the drain and canals off Revere and Lange streets once the investigation is completed. Levels in excess of 3,000 have also been found in the drains.
   Grunert said he may assemble an EPA emergency response team to ferret out the source of the PCBs.
   Federal and state officials disclosed 10 days ago that the PCBs were found in the canals, but state officials admitted under questioning by the audience that they knew about the PCBs a month earlier.
   Dave Consiglio, who lives on Revere, said residents along the two canals want officials to conduct periodic testing of the water to make sure PCBs and other contaminants are not getting into the waterways.
   "It doesn't surprise me they are finding these high levels," said Consiglio, 45. "This has been an open drain for 50 or 60 years, and anyone could drop toxic material in our drains."
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