News and Activities

Cleanup Started in the Kalamazoo River

Date Posted: June 15, 2007

A significant cleanup of PCB contamination in the Kalamazoo River in southwestern Michigan has begun.  The Plainwell Impoundment cleanup aims to remove 4,400 pounds of PCBs - 132,000 cubic yards of material - from a 1.5 mile segment of the river upstream of the Plainwell Dam between Plainwell and Otsego.

The two year project targets contaminated river banks, in-stream sediment and floodplain hotspots primarily located on land owned by Michigan Department of Natural Resources. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in consultation with Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, will oversee the work performed by contractors hired by the responsible parties.

The work that will be performed was negotiated during mediated discussions that began in late 2004 among EPA, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, Michigan Department of Natural Resources, U.S.Fish and Wildlife Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Michigan Attorney General, and two paper companies: Georgia-Pacific and Millennium Holdings.

Contaminants specialists from the Service's East Lansing Field Office and other natural resource agencies contributed significantly to the design of the project.  Original proposals for the area included leaving the aging dam in place and armoring the banks of the river to prevent erosion.  The companies will remove most of the Plainwell Dam in the process of removing contaminated material behind the dam, along the banks, and in the floodplain.  The new river banks will be graded based on natural river channel dynamics and then planted with native species of plants.  East Lansing Field Office and natural resource agency contributions to the mediated discussions resulted in the adoption of a removal action that is expected to be protective of natural resources and provides for a river that will once again flow in its historical channel. 

Lisa Williams, 517-351-8324

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Kalamazoo River Project

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency photos of the project

East Lansing Field Office Kalamazoo River Environment Natural Resource Damage Assessment

Division of Environmental Quality - PCBs

Last updated: June 12, 2015