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EPA announces plan to clean up PCBs and remove dam at Allied Paper site in Otsego, Mich.

Contact Information: 
Rachel Bassler (

For Immediate Release: No. 17-OPA087

CHICAGO (Oct. 12, 2017)U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has decided on a plan to clean up contaminated soil and sediment at a portion of the Allied Paper Inc./Portage Creek/Kalamazoo River Superfund site near Otsego, Mich. Part of the plan is to remove the Otsego city dam. EPA plans to negotiate an agreement to ensure responsible parties pay for and implement the cleanup.

The recently signed “record of decision” is for the cleanup of the 1.9-mile stretch of the Kalamazoo River between the former Plainwell Dam and the Otsego city dam, known as area 2 of operable unit 5 of the Superfund site. The cleanup addresses polychlorinated biphenyl, or PCB, contamination in sediment and soil from historic paper recycling operations.

Starting in the 1950s, several paper mills along the Kalamazoo River and Portage Creek recycled various types of paper stock. This included carbonless copy paper containing PCBs that were released into the mills’ waste streams and eventually to the Kalamazoo River. In 1990, the government added the site to the National Priorities List, a list of the worst contaminated sites in the country.

Other components of the cleanup for this portion of the site include realignment of the Kalamazoo River to create a single stable channel; riverbank and floodplain soil excavation; and capping the upstream channel areas that will be cut off from the main channel when the dam is removed. Fish consumption advisories will remain in effect, and EPA will continue long-term monitoring of surface water, fish tissue, and sediment.

Construction activities are anticipated to take five years at an estimated cost of $46 million.

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