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Great Lakes Article:

Paper companies ordered to pay $308 million for Fox River cleanup

Article courtesy of ASSOCIATED PRESS

October 4, 2001

GREEN BAY -- Seven paper companies that dumped harmful PCBs into the Fox River will pay for a proposed $308 million project to dredge much of the contamination out of the river and bury it in a landfill, state and federal environmental officials said Tuesday.

The agencies will continue to negotiate with the paper companies to reach settlements on the payments or a lawsuit will be filed to recover the money, said Tom Skinner, regional administrator for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

"We are sitting at the table with a number of companies. We are fairly hopeful in this case we are going to reach a resolution,'' he said.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and the EPA announced details of the cleanup at the Jack Day Environmental Education Center along the Fox River in Green Bay. They called the river "culturally and recreationally invaluable.''

"This is a cleanup that has to be done one way or another,'' Skinner said.

The announcement ends years of study and debate about how to best clean up the river. The study included test dredging. Some earlier estimates had suggested the dredging would cost upward of $700 million -- too expensive and not worth it, the paper companies contended.

"What a wonderful day and what a beginning of the end of pollution in this river and a clean river for people to enjoy,'' said Bill Hartwig, regional administrator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The dredging is expected to take at least seven years, perhaps beginning in 2003, and would remove 7.25 million cubic yards of contaminated sediment containing nearly 65,000 pounds of PCBs, DNR Secretary Darrell Bazzell said.

Paper companies and the public will be able to comment on the plan during hearings Oct. 29 in Appleton and Oct. 30 in Green Bay.

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