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Great Lakes Article:

Firms ask to test innovative cleanup process on Fox River
Gannett Wisconsin Newspapers
01/23/04

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 Technologies Environmental.

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 Fox River.

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 interested in."

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.

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