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Great Lakes Article:

Plan for dredging in bay pleases some
But Door Co. advocates say they’re ignored
By John Dipko
Green Bay Press-Gazette

MADISON - Environmental watchdogs praised a Fox River cleanup plan for including dredging in the bay of Green Bay, but they’re not sure the project goes far enough.

The $400 million cleanup plan, released Monday, calls for dredging to occur where the river and bay meet, including spots in the bay where high concentrations of polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, are located.

The rest of the bay will undergo monitoring for 40 years under a $39.6 million program to see whether the pollutants degrade, spread out in lower concentrations or wind up buried.

Jennifer Feyerherm, toxics specialist for the Sierra Club’s Great Lakes Program, said public comments helped prompt regulators to address the edge of the bay.

"Folks noted there was a hot spot, and just because we drew a line between the river and bay, it doesn’t mean we should stop there," she said. "Sampling that has been done on the eastern part of the bay hasn’t perhaps been as extensive as it could be. The (plan) calls for more monitoring and modeling, so I’m hoping that sampling will be added so everyone’s minds can be put to rest about that part of the bay."

But Jerome Viste, executive director of the Door County Environmental Council, expressed far less hope.

"In Door County, we’re getting shafted," he said. "Eighty percent of the material is out in the bay and everyone knows it. Nothing’s being done to keep that under control."

Viste said he worries that highly concentrated deposits of PCBs will someday be found in waters like Little Sturgeon Bay, Fish Creek or Ellison Bay.

"Then the taxpayers get stuck," he said. "If anything can be done, the expense will be borne entirely by local citizens. It’s unfortunate because it’s my feeling that these materials are moving down the bay. The currents are counterclockwise, meaning everything comes up the Door County shoreline."

Ron Vander Loop, who chairs the Brown County delegation to the state’s Conservation Congress, said monitoring does nothing to clean up the bay, and he sympathizes with Door County.

"They’re left in the dark, but they’re not in it much worse than we are," Vander Loop said. "We just happen to be right on the spot where they made the announcement. Some of our dialogue has been that we have to clean up the east shore. ‘No, we’ll monitor it,’ they said."

Natural recovery also would take several decades, perhaps more than a century, to occur before the levels drop to the point where the bay would be considered clean, Vander Loop said.

"It naturally won’t be for a number of years because fish that live in it now that carry the PCBs will still carry it when they die," he said.

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