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Replacement of St. Louis, Mich., Well Field To Be Reviewed by EPA Panel

Release Date: 05/18/2010
Contact Information: Mick Hans, 312-353-5050, Mike Joyce, 312-353-5546,

No. 10-OPA052

(CHICAGO – May 18, 2010) U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 5 said today that replacement of the city of St. Louis, Mich.’s, drinking water well field will be included in the cleanup options reviewed by a senior EPA panel. Well field replacement is one part of a proposed comprehensive cleanup plan EPA, in consultation with Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment, is developing to address the Velsicol Superfund site. The panel, known as the National Remedy Review Board, reviews cleanup plans valued at more than $25 million at federal Superfund hazardous waste sites. The panel is comprised of senior EPA Superfund managers from regional offices around the U.S. and EPA Headquarters in Washington, D.C.

The Region 5 office is considering well field replacement due to the potential for overall cost savings to EPA and MDNRE at the site. The current levels of pCBSA contamination in the well field now used by the city are within drinking water standards established by the state of Michigan and do not pose an unacceptable health risk. Para-chlorobenzene sulfanic acid, or pCBSA, is a byproduct of the pesticide DDT, which was manufactured by Velsicol.

The estimated cost of replacing the well field is $27 million to $32 million. EPA believes the costs associated with replacing the well field as part of the cleanup plan could be recouped in about five years. Beyond five years, a potential $5 million to $6 million annual savings could also be realized.

The final remedy decision—the cleanup plan—for the Velsicol site will be based on input from the Remedy Review Board, MDNRE and public comment. EPA anticipates this decision will be made in early 2011.

The Velsicol Chemical Superfund site is managed as two separate units. Operable Unit 1 is a 52-acre former chemical manufacturing facility and some adjacent properties, including residential areas. The site was added to EPA’s Superfund National Priorities List in 1983. Cleanup completed in 1984 has since been determined to have not been implemented correctly. MDNRE is the lead agency on completing a new remedial investigation/feasibility study, which will identify cleanup options for addressing current problems at the site.

Operable Unit 2 included contamination in the sediment and fish in the Pine River, which runs along the west and north edges of the site. From 1999 to 2006, EPA and Michigan spent about $100 million to complete a Pine River sediment cleanup. Separately, an area near the Velsicol property designated by EPA as the Gratiot County Golf Course was added to the Superfund National Priorities List in March 2010. This area is surrounded by the Hidden Oaks Golf Course on Monroe Road.

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