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EPA announces completion of sediment cleanup at former refinery in Muskegon, Mich.

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Allison Lippert (

Chicago (October 16, 2018) — Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced the completion of a $16 million sediment cleanup at the former Zephyr Oil Refinery in Muskegon Township, Mich. Work was funded through a cost-sharing partnership with the state of Michigan under the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI).  

EPA Great Lakes National Program Office Director Chris Korleski joined Michigan Department of Environmental Quality Chief Deputy Director Aaron Keatley, Michigan Office of the Great Lakes Director Jon W. Allan, local elected officials and members of the community today at the project site at 1222 Holton Road to mark this milestone.

“Today we celebrate a crucial step in cleaning up toxic pollution and restoring habitat in the Muskegon Lake Area of Concern,” said EPA Region 5 Administrator Cathy Stepp. “The success of this cleanup would not have been possible without a tremendous partnership with the state of Michigan and the local community.”

 “The cleanup efforts to restore this once blighted site are the result of dedicated partnerships and collaboration on the local, state and federal levels," said MDEQ Chief Deputy Director Aaron Keatley. "Success stories, like the Zephyr remediation, are a testament to what can be accomplished by working together to return our environment to productive use; therefore, making our communities safer, healthier and more viable." 

“Michigan’s waters are the foundation of our communities, environment and economy,” said Michigan Office of the Great Lakes Director Jon W. Allan. “This recovery is another step forward on the path to healthy Michigan communities and stewardship of our state’s resources.”

The former Zephyr Oil Refinery is in western Michigan’s Muskegon Lake Area of Concern (AOC), which the United States and Canada identified as one of 43 toxic hotspots in the Great Lakes basin. Lead and petroleum releases from the refinery contaminated sediment along Muskegon Lake. During the cleanup, approximately 50,000 cubic yards of contaminated sediment were excavated from wetlands and a former fire suppression ditch. Currently, grading, seeding and planting are taking place in an effort to restore wildlife habitat.

The GLRI was launched in 2010 to accelerate efforts to protect and restore the Great Lakes. EPA has funded more than 900 projects to address GLRI’s highest priorities: cleaning up highly-contaminated “areas of concern,” reducing nutrient runoff, combating invasive species and restoring habitat.

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