Fox River cleanup still in early stages
Officials: Completion of PCB removal plans more than a
Appleton Post Crescent
Published December 4th, 2004
GREEN BAY — Paper companies, contractors and state officials
are closer to finalizing details of the PCB cleanup in
the Fox River and bay of Green Bay, officials say.
But the final project could take about 10 more years
The state Department of Natural Resources discussed the
project’s timeline Friday in a small meeting originally
for just local government officials but open to the public.
Roughly 60,000 to 80,000 pounds of the potentially cancer-causing
polychlorinated biphenyls are thought to remain in the
Fox River. Discharges from the river also have moved PCBs
into Green Bay and Lake Michigan, where they are absorbed
and consumed by fish.
Once the cleanup is complete, it could take decades for
PCBs to drop below safe levels in fish.
Exactly when the fish in local waters are safe to eat
again depends on actions taken within the next six to
18 months, said Greg Hill, DNR chief of water quality
The department will be working with paper companies to
evaluate 1,154 core locations removed from the lower Fox
this summer to map out the extent of PCB contamination
and devise the final removal plan, which should be completed
by early 2006.
The cleanup is divided into several parts. Dredging on
the upper part near Menasha and Little Lake Butte des
Morts began this summer. That area is thought to contain
about 10 percent of the PCB contaminants.
Some state and federal Environmental Protection Agency
officials on the project said work on the lower river
should wait until dredging is finished upstream, but that
could delay the project by several years.
Hill said he didn’t think the DNR wanted to wait that
long to start on the lower river, where the lion’s share
of PCBs remain.
Disposal of the PCB waste is still one of the biggest
issues. De Pere City Administrator Larry Delo said Friday
the city remains concerned about plans to run a pipeline
through town to a landfill in the Town of Holland.
“We just want to be in the loop so we have an opportunity
to comment during the process of the final design,” Delo
The data from the 1,154 cores samples of the river are
being studied to determined exactly where and how deep
PCB contaminants are deposited. Hill said so far core
samples have provided no surprises, in line with previous
Other news about the project discussed on Friday included:
n The first summer of dredging in Little Lake Butte des
Morts removed 25,000 cubic yards of PCB-contaminated waste.
The waste is waiting to be trucked to a landfill near
Chilton. Very few PCBs were redistributed in the water
n The state is using a “working group” approach to writing
the final cleanup implementation plan, in which paper
company representatives and DNR officials meet and talk
regularly about eight different aspects of the program.
The working groups help establish consensus in choosing
cleanup methods and design, whereas the typical Superfund-style
cleanup design is normally more adversarial, company and
DNR officials said.