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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

More government experts

Repositories

(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

Background

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.

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Site Updates

Fox River Current Newsletter (PDF) (8pp, 431K) Winter 2013 (all issues of the Fox River Current- Archive)

March 2014

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

Public Comments

Public comments on the consent decrees are being accepted by the U.S. Department of Justice Exit EPA Disclaimerthrough May 1. 

 

Last fall, portions of five historical ships were 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. Six years ago, 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 are considered to be cultural resources, they must be “replaced” if they are removed.  The paper companies have agreed to build a display for The Neville Public Museum of Brown CountyExit EPA Disclaimerto “replace” these resources.  The display is expected to be ready this summer.

The sixth year of dredging in the Lower Fox River from DePere to Green Bay will start this spring. About 670,000 cubic yards of PCB-contaminated sediment is expected to be removed using at least three hydraulic dredges.  Similar to last year, dredging will take place 24 hours per day, at least five days a week through early November.  Another process referred to as sand capping and covering, which started in 2011, will also continue.  This year, 46 acres of sediment will be capped and covered.

All dredged sediment is pumped into the State Street dewatering facility through a pipeline. Then, the water is squeezed out by special equipment called a plate and frame press. The remaining dried sediment is loaded onto trucks to be properly disposed of. Some sediment with higher levels of PCBs is 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. Since most of the sediment has PCB levels less than 50 parts per million, it is 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.

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