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Bay Harbor agreement reached; interim cleanup measures to begin

Release Date: 02/22/2005
Contact Information:

CONTACT: (EPA) Mick Hans, (312) 353-5050
(MDEQ) Pat Spitzley, (517) 241-7397

For Immediate Release
No. 05-OPA012

CHICAGO (Feb. 22, 2005) — U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 5 has reached agreement with responsible parties to address an ongoing release of highly-alkaline leachate into Lake Michigan from cement kiln dust piles at the Bay Harbor Golf Club near Petoskey, Mich. Leachate is produced when rain and ground water flow through a waste disposal area.

The agreement, called an administrative order on consent, requires two units of CMS Energy — CMS Land Co. and CMS Capital LLC — to take immediate steps to control releases from the cement kiln dust piles. EPA will provide direction and oversight. Bay Harbor Co. and Bay Harbor Golf Course have each agreed to provide access to allow CMS to carry out these activities.

As part of these interim measures, a comprehensive investigation will be conducted under EPA direction and oversight. The results of this investigation will be used in designing a long-term remedy for the cement kiln dust piles. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality will negotiate an agreement with the responsible parties for implementation of the remedy based on the investigation.

In negotiating the order, EPA worked closely with MDEQ and consulted with the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians and the Northwest Michigan Community Health Agency.

"Action to contain the Bay Harbor cement kiln dust release was long overdue,” said Acting Region 5 Administrator Bharat Mathur. “Today’s agreement provides a road map to address the situation permanently.”

Under the order, CMS is required to immediately install an interim recovery system to prevent large volumes of the cement kiln dust leachate from entering Little Traverse Bay and to maintain the system until long-term measures are complete and shown to work. In addition, CMS will construct fencing or other engineering controls to restrict access to the leachate areas. Work at the site is expected to begin in early March.

"We appreciate the fact that CMS has made the commitment to undertake the measures that are set out in the agreement,” said MDEQ Director Steven E. Chester. “Little Traverse Bay is both an extremely important Lake Michigan ecosystem and a popular resort area. These steps are geared to enhancing both.”

"The tribe’s paramount concern is for the health of the lakes and quality of the waters,” said Chairman Frank Ettawageshik of the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians. “We are pleased that this agreement will help to accomplish our goals, which we believe are in the best interest of all people in the Great Lakes region.”

Beginning in 1994, the area where the cement kiln dust piles are located, a former cement plant, was developed into a resort and golf course. In August and September 2004, leachate from the piles was seen discharging into Lake Michigan. Investigations by EPA and MDEQ showed that the leachate contains a high pH level, which may cause burns and other health effects. There are also indications that the leachate contains mercury and other contaminants. In September 2004, MDEQ required responsible parties, including CMS, to restart a leachate collection system that had been shut down. Subsequent investigations by EPA and MDEQ determined that the collection system was not adequate to address conditions at the site and that further measures would be required to protect human health and the environment.