Fox River dredging plan could take up to 60 years, panel
Article courtesy of the ASSOCIATED
December 10, 2001
ASHWAUBENON, Wis. -- A dredging plan backed by state
and federal regulators to clean the PCB-contaminated Fox
River could take 60 years to complete, a panel hired to
study corrective options said.
The timeline is longer than the five to seven years
the state Department of Natural Resources and federal
Environmental Protection Agency estimate and is a main
reason for the panel's recommendation that contaminated
sediment be capped, not removed.
"We feel it's important to reduce the risk and
address the problem quickly,'' said Cecil
Lue-Hing, chairman of the panel that was hired by Appleton
The state DNR and EPA released a cleanup plan Oct. 2
that asks Appleton Papers and six other paper companies
to spend $308 million to dredge and dispose of 7.25 million
cubic yards of PCB-contaminated sediment.
The companies released the chemicals into the river
during the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s in the manufacture and
recycling of carbonless copy paper.
Lue-Hing presented the seven-man panel's findings
on Tuesday at a meeting of the Science and Technical Advisory
Committee, which is an independent body of scientists,
engineers and environmentalists that meets to consider
remedial options for the river. The panel worked eight
months on the study, Lue-Hing said.
In the capping plan, contaminated sediment would be
buried under layers of sand, gravel and stone.
The composition of the cap would vary across the affected
39-mile stretch of river from Little Lake Butte des Morts
to the bay of Green Bay.
Capping river sediments could be completed in six to
10 years, Lue-Hing said.
He said the DNR and EPA agencies have underestimated
the time it will take to dredge the river because work
cannot proceed faster than the agencies' own wastewater
The agencies' plan calls for water drained from
contaminated sediment to be discharged back into the river.
The discharge will fall under the same regulations businesses
now face when seeking permits to allow discharge into
waterways, Lue-Hing said, meaning that dredging could
take decades, not years.
Also, the capping plan would likely cost about the same
as the agencies' $308 million estimate for their
own dredging plan, Lue-Hing said.