Firms ask to test innovative cleanup
process on Fox River
Gannett Wisconsin Newspapers
GREEN BAY - Two companies pushing a bacteria solution
to the PCB-contaminated Fox River have asked regulators
for a local test of the cutting-edge cleanup technology.
"We want to do this on our own dime," said
Christopher Young, president of South Carolina-based Resource
Youngís company and another, Alaska Digestive Technology,
have already used bacteria to clean up petroleum contamination
at sites in Alaska and elsewhere.
Now the companies hope to expand the technology already
shown to work in controlled laboratory settings for tougher
contaminants such as polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs,
to sites in and around the Great Lakes, including the
The companies presented the science behind their technology
to an audience of about two dozen in Green Bay on Thursday.
"Itís innovative; itís got potential," said
H.J. "Bud" Harris, University of Wisconsin-Green
Bay professor emeritus. "The problem is itís not
ready to put in place and thatís what people are really
Compounds like PCBs last for centuries in natural settings
because nothing in nature breaks them down. Youngís company
trains bacteria harvested from contaminated sites to thrive
in the presence of manmade compounds.
The federal Environmental Protection Agency and state
Department of Natural Resources issued a Record of Decision
last year that made final a cleanup plan that calls for
seven area paper companies to spend an estimated $400
million to dredge 7.25 million cubic yards of contaminated
sediment from the Fox River downstream from Little Lake
Butte des Morts.
Current plans call for dredged river sediment to be disposed
of in northeastern Wisconsin landfills.
Cleanup is scheduled to start this year.
Al Toma, director of Environmental Field Services for
Georgia-Pacific Corp., one of the companies on the hook
for cleanup costs, said the presentation was interesting,
"but we could be literally years away from anything
substantive," he said.
Residents with a stake in the landfill issue said they
had high hopes for the new technology and another in which
contaminated sediments are burned, not buried.
"I think they ought to open the Record of Decision
and take a look at these two processes before they start
dredging and landfilling," said Ray Batley, chairman
of the Winnebago County Town of Vinland.
Some Vinland residents oppose a plan to landfill contaminated
sediment dredged from Little Lake Butte des Morts in a
landfill Georgia-Pacific owns in the town.