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Great Lakes Article:

PCBs in Macomb County drain could be among the nation's worst
The Associated Press
03/19/2002

 ST. CLAIR SHORES, Mich. (AP) -- The chemicals dumped in a St. Clair Shores drain could end up as one of the worst cases of PCB contamination the nation has ever seen, a Macomb County official said. "I think the PCB spill is going to be one of the worst in American history, from all indications," said county board Chairman John Hertel. "We need people above us, with the resources, to help us."  Hertel said PCB levels in the Ten Mile Drain are 30,000 times higher than safe standards, The Macomb Daily of Mount Clemens reported in a Tuesday article.

 Environmental experts are studying how PCBs got into the 258-acre drain system and two St. Clair Shores canals. The public is in no danger because the PCB was underground in an enclosed drain, said officials with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

PCBs, or polychlorinated biphenyls, were found in samples taken during a routine cleanup of sediments and other materials flowing from the storm-water system. Levels of 400 parts per million were found earlier this month in drains that empty into street boating canals here. Levels of 1.4 parts per million or less is considered safe for human contact.

 Manufacturing or use of new PCBs, which have been linked to various forms of cancers, has been banned since 1977, but previously used PCBs still exist. "The concentrations rival some of the worst PCB-contaminated Superfund sites," said Linda Schweitzer, an assistant professor of chemistry at Oakland University. "What is really infuriating is that somebody dumped this stuff to save a few thousand dollars in disposal costs, and now it will cost the taxpayers millions," she said.

 

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