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Lower Fox River and Green Bay Site

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Contact Information

Community Involvement Coordinator
Susan Pastor (pastor.susan@epa.gov)
312-353-1325 or 800-621-8431, ext. 31325

Remedial Project Manager
James Hahnenberg (hahnenberg.james@epa.gov) 312-353-4213 or 800-621-8431, ext. 34213

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(where to view written records)

Appleton Public Library
225 N. Oneida Street
Appleton, WI

Brown County Library
515 Pine Street
Green Bay, WI

Door County Library
104 S. Fourth Ave.
Sturgeon Bay, WI

Oneida Community Library
201 Elm Street
Oneida, WI

Oshkosh Public Library
106 Washington Ave.
Oshkosh, WI

An Administrative Record, which contains detailed information upon which the selection of the cleanup plan was based, is available at:

DNR Lower Fox River Basin Team
801 E. Walnut Street
Green Bay, WI

Wisconsin Dept. of Natural Resources
Bureau of Watershed Management
101 S. Webster Street, 3rd Floor Madison, WI

EPA Record Center
77 W. Jackson Blvd., 7th Floor
Chicago, IL


The Lower Fox River, located in northeastern Wisconsin, begins at the Menasha and Neenah channels leading from Lake Winnebago and flows northeast for 39 miles where it discharges into Green Bay and Lake Michigan. Approximately 270,000 people live in the communities along the river. The river has 12 dams and includes the highest concentration of pulp and paper mills in the world. During the 1950s and 1960s, these mills routinely used PCBs in their operations which ultimately contaminated the river.(more...)

What are PCBs?

As a result of the recycling of PCB-containing carbonless copy paper, area mill operations discharged PCBs in waste streams, contaminating sediment in the Lower Fox River. The Lower Fox River is the largest source of PCBs to Lake Michigan in the basin. From 1957 to 1971, about 250,000 pounds of PCBs were released, contaminating 11 million tons of sediment. It is estimated that some 160,000 pounds of PCBs have already left the Fox River and entered Green Bay and Lake Michigan. On average, 300 to 500 additional pounds are flushed from the Lower Fox sediment each year. Floods would flush additional thousands of pounds into Green Bay. Once PCBs are released into the bay and Lake Michigan, they are extremely difficult, if not impossible, to recover.

Site Updates | Latest Update | News Releases | Fact Sheets || Technical Documents || Five-Year Reviews || Legal Documents || Public Meetings

Site Updates

Fox River Current Newsletter (PDF) (8pp, 533K) Winter 2014 (all issues of the Fox River Current- Archive)

December 2014

The sixth year of dredging in the Lower Fox River from DePere to Green Bay has been completed. About 543,000 cubic yards of PCB-contaminated sediment was removed in 2014 using at least three hydraulic dredges. Similar to previous years, dredging took place 24 hours per day, at least five days a week April through early November (except for holidays). Another process referred to as sand capping and covering, which started in 2011, also continued. During 2014, 60 acres of sediment was capped and covered.

All dredged sediment was pumped into the State Street dewatering facility through a pipeline. Then, the water was squeezed out by special equipment called a plate and frame press. The remaining dried sediment was loaded onto trucks to be properly disposed of. Some sediment with higher levels of PCBs was trucked to Ridgeview Recycling and Disposal Facility in Whitelaw, near Manitowoc. Owned by Waste Management of Wisconsin, this landfill received a permit in 2012 from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to accept this type of material. Most of the sediment was taken to Veolia Hickory Meadows Landfill in Chilton.

The entire cleanup is scheduled to be completed by 2017. In a May 1, 2013 federal court ruling, U.S. District Judge William Griesbach required seven companies that EPA considers responsible for the PCB contamination to continue and complete the required cleanup work.

EPA also completed a status review of the site’s cleanup so far. This type of review is required at least every five years where the cleanup is complete--or ongoing--but hazardous waste remains managed on-site. These reviews are done to ensure that the cleanup continues to protect people and the environment.

The review included:

This was the second five-year review for the Lower Fox River site. It details the site progress. The next review is scheduled for 2019.

Three legal agreements for settlements totaling about $55 million were lodged in federal court on March 26, 2014. If a judge approves these agreements, or consent decrees, it would resolve claims against six companies and two municipal sewer system operators for cleanup costs and natural resource damages in the Lower Fox River.

The remaining portions of five historical ships have been pulled out of the Lower Fox River just north of the southern “railroad bridge” in Green Bay. This work was done under a legal agreement signed by EPA, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, the state historic preservation officer, Green Bay’s Neville Museum, and NCR Corp.’s contractor.

The ships, two of which date back to the 1880s, were discovered in 2008 by archaeologists hired to document artifacts found in the river from Appleton to Green Bay. With the help of Wisconsin historians, nautical organizations and maritime museums, two were identified as the Bob Teed and the Satisfaction. Little information is available on the three other wooden barges near the shoreline by the State Street sediment processing facility. The archaeologists were charged with making recommendations on how to handle the ships, also referred to as artifacts, so the cleanup could proceed on schedule. Because these sunken vessels were considered to be cultural resources, they had to be “replaced” if they were removed. The paper companies agreed to build a display for The Neville Public Museum of Brown County Exit EPA Disclaimerto “replace” these resources. The display is expected to be ready by summer 2015.

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