||Final Record of Decision|
Help Clean The
River and Bay!
release: July 28, 2003
Fox River PCB Cleanup Plan Weakened
Green Bay, WI --- Today, Clean Water Action Council and Citizens for a Better Environment criticized the recently released “Record of Decision,” which finalizes the cleanup plan for the Fox River and Green Bay. The groups called for a renewed commitment to a complete cleanup and restoration of two of Wisconsin’s most important natural resources.
“Unfortunately, this plan is weaker than the draft plan the public commented on two years ago. The governments are not only threatening the health of Wisconsin’s environment and residents of the region, but setting a dangerous precedent for future cleanups,” stated Rebecca Katers, Executive Director of Clean Water Action Council, a local citizen group that has worked on this issue for 18 years.
“While we’re pleased to see the release of this long-awaited plan, we’re disappointed that the environment and public health are not protected. The plan is badly compromised,” concluded Dr. Jeffery Foran, toxicologist and President of Citizens for a Better Environment.
Three months ago, CBE and CWAC joined 24 other local, state, and national organizations, representing hundreds of thousands of individuals throughout the Great Lakes region, in calling for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Wisconsin Dept. of Natural Resources (DNR), and Wisconsin Governor Doyle’s office to support stronger cleanup measures than those presented last January for the upriver half the PCB cleanup. (see news release and letter) Instead, the governments weakened the plan
The most disturbing aspect of the Fox River announcement is the weakness of the 1 ppm PCB cleanup target. It will not protect public health.
Toxicologist Jeffery Foran presented evidence at last year’s public hearings showing that the proposed 1 ppm (parts per million) cleanup target for sediment was 4 times too high. He called for a .25 ppm dredging target (equal to 250 ppb - parts per billion) which would mix with cleaner sediments to achieve the 10 to 20 ppb average PCB sediment levels necessary for minimum protection of public health and the lifting of fish consumption advisories. It was still a compromise, but reasonable and more effective. (see Foran's detailed comments)
The agencies are averaging their higher 1 ppm sediment residues with cleaner sediments nearby and underneath, to claim they are achieving the .25 ppm level --- but a 250 parts per billion average (equal to .25 ppm) is NOT protective of health. The average needs to be much lower.
According to the DNR’s own documents, the 1 ppm target decision will allow significant PCB residues to persist at unhealthy levels after cleanup --- for more than a century. Fish consumption advisories will still be necessary. This is an unacceptable response to a serious public health emergency.
Dr. Foran's stronger .25 ppm PCB dredging target would allow fish advisories to be lifted almost immediately after dredging in the river, and would greatly reduce the quantity of PCBs flowing downstream to Green Bay. In the bay, the reduction in PCB mass should allow the bay to recover decades earlier.
Ironically, seven years ago the DNR proposed to clean the Little Lake Butte des Morts hotspot down to .05 ppm (50 ppb), based on public health concerns, but backed away after P.H. Glatfelter Paper Company refused to cooperate (even with the state providing $5 million toward the cost.) Their new target cleanup standard for the river and bay is now 20 times weaker.
The better .25 ppm target is not significantly more expensive than the 1 ppm target. In the worst and largest sediment hotspot between DePere and Green Bay, the incremental increase in cost would be only $18 million (out of $400 million), but could mean lifting the fish advisories many decades earlier --- surely worth the cost in terms of public health protection and tourism benefits. Keep in mind that roughly 40,000 people are currently eating unsafe quantities of fish from the Fox River and Bay system.
The PCB polluters have a moral and legal responsibility to clean up after themselves and protect the public. It’s the least they can do after 50 years of PCB damages.
information, call: Rebecca Katers at 920-437-7304 or Dr. Jeffery
Foran at 414-491-1051
CONTENT BY: Rebecca Leighton Katers
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