Industrial activities on the Kalamazoo River and Portage Creek released polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) to those waterways and the surrounding environment. As a result, the U.S. EPA designated areas downstream of the releases of PCBs as the Allied Paper, Inc./Portage Creek/Kalamazoo River Superfund Site, which stretches from Morrow Dam near Comstock, Michigan, downstream 80 miles to Lake Michigan. The Trustees for natural resources are conducting a NRDA to determine the amount of restoration needed both to return the Kalamazoo River Environment to what it would have been like if the contaminants had not been released and to compensate the public for the loss of use and enjoyment of their natural resources resulting from the contaminants. The Trustee agencies for this NRDA are the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, the Michigan Department of the Attorney General, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. In a Stage I Assessment, the Trustees documented injuries including impaired reproduction of bald eagles, the presence of fish consumption advisories, and concentrations of PCBs in soils and sediments that are known to cause impairments to benthic invertebrates, mammals, and birds. Working with EPA, the State of Michigan, and the paper companies, the Trustees are working to ensure the cleanup actions are combined with removal of aging dams and eventual restoration of river and floodplain habitats.
The Trustees have used funding from two bankruptcy settlements to conduct additional restoration projects. In December of 2019, the Trustees launched a website to collect additional ideas for restoration at the same time that they announced a settlement with NCR Corporation. If approved by the court, the settlement will provide an additional $25 million for restoration and reimburse the Trustees, collectively, for $2 million of their past assessment costs.
Public meeting is being held on January 13, 2020 at the Kalamazoo Public Library at 6:30pm.
Additional case information can be found on the FWS trustee's website at: http://www.fws.gov/midwest/es/ec/nrda/KalamazooRiver/index.html