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Great Lakes Article:

Feds back off plan to find PCB culprits
EPA won't pay two scientists, but OKs a $4.5 million cleanup

Gene Schabath
The Detroit News

   ST. CLAIR SHORES -- The EPA will spend as much as $4.5 million to purge PCBs from a storm drain and two residential boat canals, but is refusing to pay $10,000 to two scientists for tests that would pinpoint when the toxic substance was dumped.
   Two Metro Detroit college professors, Linda Schweitzer of Oakland University and Mark Baskaran of Wayne State University, were supposed to start today taking sediment samples from the Lange and Revere street canals to determine when the PCBs were deposited into them near 10 Mile and Jefferson.
   But Schweitzer learned late Tuesday from Doug Parker of the EPA criminal task force that the agency wanted the work done for free.
   "(Parker) said they aren't going to fund it for reasons he can't divulge," Schweitzer said.
   A state and federal task force trying to find who dumped the PCBs into the drain-canal system hoped that narrowing when the chemicals were dumped would help locate the source.
   Schweitzer and Baskaran said they wanted a nominal $10,000 -- mostly to cover the use of Baskaran's $150,000 isotope machine used in the tests.
   Parker did not return phone calls Tuesday.
   "It costs thousands of dollars to calibrate the equipment plus the cost of (analyzing) each sample is $150 and we plan on 50 samples," said Baskaran, a geochemist and associate professor of geology at Wayne State.
   "That's a total of $10,000 or $11,000. All along they talked about paying us. I don't know what made them back out."
   Schweitzer, a professor of environmental chemistry, said she doubts if the EPA could perform the same tests Baskaran does.
   "His testing is unique," Schweitzer said. "Baskaran will be trying to detect certain isotopes such as lead and plutonium and he uses them to date the sediments (that contain the PCBs)."
   The minuscule amounts of plutonium isotopes come from nuclear fallout -- the biggest fallout occuring in 1963, Baskaran said.
   "And if we find a peak value of plutonium in the sediment along with PCBs, that means it (the dumping) occurred in 1963," Baskaran said. Lesser levels of plutonium or lead would mean the PCBs were dumped at later dates. Baskaran said he could narrow it to as close as six months.
   Revere street resident David Consiglio said he is disappointed that the isotope tests won't be conducted.
   "I have lived here 40 years and I am entitled to know what has been going into the canal in my back yard all these years," said Consiglio, one of the residents who pushed for the silt-laden canals to be dredged.
   The PCBs were found last year during routine testing of the sediment.
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