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  • City of Trenton, MI (Wayne County)
  • Detroit River AOC
  • Status: Cleanup Completed, 2005

Marc Tuchman
Great Lakes Legacy Act Program Manager

Black Lagoon Legacy Act Cleanup

Detroit River Area of Concern

April 2005 – Silt curtains (yellow) at Black Lagoon keep sediments out of the main stream of the river.

April 2005 – Silt curtains (yellow) at Black Lagoon keep sediments out of the main stream of the river. (Click to enlarge)

More than 470,000 pounds of contaminants were removed from the Black Lagoon inlet on the Detroit River, completing the first cleanup project made possible by the Great Lakes Legacy Act. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Great Lakes National Program Office and Michigan Department of Environmental Quality coordinated the removal of 115,000 cubic yards of polluted sludge from the small bay during the $9.3 million project.

Dredging of the polluted mud began in October 2004 and took thirteen months. The sediment was dredged out of the lagoon and the sludge was solidified before being transferred by truck or barge to the Pointe Mouille Confined Disposal Facility. After the dredging phase was completed, the bottom of the lagoon was covered with 6 inches of sand and 3 inches of stone to protect fish and wildlife from any remaining contamination in the river mud. Approximately 160 lb of PCBs; 360 lb of mercury, 300,000 pb of oil and grease, 38,000 lb of lead and 140 lb of zinc were removed from the inlet.

The Black Lagoon is a backwater embayment located in the Trenton Channel of the Detroit River. The Black Lagoon received its name in the mid-1980s when scientists investigating the Detroit River discovered that oil and grease released during the 1940s-1970s had accumulated in the sediment of Black Lagoon.

Following the remediation, the city of Trenton received a $151,000 grant to restore a natural shoreline on the Black Lagoon. This work was completed in 2006. In June 2007 the site was renamed “Ellias Cove” in honor of the family who donated the adjacent land to Trenton that became Meyer-Ellias Park. The community also celebrated a $582,000 Boating Infrastructure Grant from U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to build a marina and further economic revitalization of downtown Trenton ($200,000 will also be provided as local match from Trenton).

The Black Lagoon lies within the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge, the first international refuge in North America.

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