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Asbestos Forces EPA to Fence Smelter Site

Quincy Smelter Site

Franklin Township, Michigan July 2004

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is fencing off a recreational and snowmobile trail after dangerous asbestos wastes were found at the Quincy Smelter site. EPA this spring was finishing cleaning up drums and laboratory chemicals at the smelter when it took 377 samples that confirmed widespread bulk asbestos inside and outside smelter buildings and along the Hancock/
Ripley trail.

EPA is coordinating with the private Quincy Development Corp., Franklin Township, Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Michigan Department of Environmental Quality to protect the public from asbestos exposure. Asbestos concentrations in fallen pipe were found to be as high as 75 percent. Breathing asbestos fibers can cause lung illnesses including cancer.

The National Park Service is also involved in the site to preserve the historic nature of the area. The smelter site is located across the Portage Canal from Houghton in Franklin Township. The public and private agencies told EPA they lacked the funds to construct the fence.

Fence plans

The fence will be installed during late June and early July around the perimeter of the site and will block the recreational and snowmobile path. EPA was concerned that foot traffic and off-road vehicles would stir up asbestos dust and possibly harm residents.

EPA will assist Quincy Development Corp., Franklin Township, National Park Service and Michigan Department of Natural Resources in cleaning up the asbestos and then conducting more sampling to make sure the area is safe.

Site is historic copper mine

The Quincy Mining Co. operated the smelter as part of the region,s historic copper mining industry from the mid-1800s to1969. After mining ceased, the Quincy company operated a water business and leased some of the mine buildings. In 1986, Quincy Development Corp. assumed ownership of the site with the intention of preserving the historical area, and in 1999 the property was transferred to Franklin Township.

In 2003, EPA surveyed the site and found numerous drums, tanks and containers holding materials such as powder, gas, chemicals and liquid industrial wastes. This June, EPA began what it calls a “removal action” to clean up drums and containers abandoned on the site prior to Quincy Development Corp. taking over. EPA wound up taking 75 drums from the smelter area during the removal action.

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