US EPA urged to completely remove PCB contamination from site of former Allied Paper mill in Kalamazoo, Michigan; in a May 10 letter to EPA, three members of US Congress note city's concerns over possible contamination of its water supply

KALAMAZOO, Michigan , May 13, 2013 (press release) – Congressman Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph, with U.S. Senators Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow sent a letter last week strongly urging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to complete the “total removal of all PCB contaminated materials from the Allied Site.”

“The Allied Site is located within a wellhead protection area for multiple well fields providing ground water for the municipal drinking water,” the letter stated. “Because of this situation, the City of Kalamazoo is concerned the contaminated material could threaten the city’s water supply.”

Upton has backed Kalamazoo City officials and residents, who want the total removal of the decades-old PCB-contaminated site sitting on top of the city's largest drinking-water aquifer, since learning in March of the EPA’s plan to merely cap the top of the site without providing any means of keeping PCBs from traveling downward into the water supply. In addition, Upton urged local officials to seek the cooperation of the state’s two U.S. Senators in signing the joint letter to the EPA.

Kalamazoo City staff, who met with Upton on the issue April 30, said they "are grateful for all the help and we appreciate Fred for backing us from the beginning of this issue."

Upton, who is also Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, has repeatedly stated in public and to the media that he backs the city’s desire to get rid of the contaminants. In 2008, when the EPA’s regional director in Chicago ordered contaminants from Plainwell to be added to the Allied site, Upton brought the EPA Administrator to Kalamazoo. After learning of the situation, the Administrator ordered the regional director to change the plan, and the contaminants were, instead, taken to a Detroit-area landfill qualified to handle such material.

Upton also announced that his staff, who has attended each of the weekly meetings held by a grassroots organization working to rid the city of the contaminated material, is slated to attend a meeting Thursday in Chicago between city and EPA officials.

"This contaminated site is located in the heart of Kalamazoo, just as the letter to the EPA states,” Upton said. “It shouldn’t be in the middle of three of the largest neighborhoods in the city of Kalamazoo, much less on top of one of the main sources of drinking water for 120,000 residents.

“The EPA needs to get it out of town.

“My staff and I will continue to work with city officials and city residents to see that their wishes are heard by the EPA and that the best, most comprehensive solution is found and followed.”

A copy of the letter signed by Upton, Levin and Stabenow is below. A copy of the letter may be found HERE.

May 10, 2012

Dr. Susan Hedman
Regional Administrator
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region V
77 West Jackson Boulevard
Chicago, IL 60604-3590

Dear Dr. Hedman:

We are writing concerning the Allied Operable Unit #1 Superfund Site (Allied Site) in Kalamazoo, Michigan. As you know, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is in the process of determining the final remediation plan for this site and its cleanup is of the utmost importance to the people living in the Kalamazoo area and to us.

The Allied Site is located in the heart of Kalamazoo and is bordered by vibrant neighborhoods, where residents want this threat to the environment and public health dealt with permanently. The decision of a final remediation plan is of critical importance to these communities.

The City of Kalamazoo and area residents favor the total removal of all PCB contaminated materials from the Allied Site. The Allied Site is located within a wellhead protection area for multiple well fields providing ground water for the municipal drinking water system. Because of this situation, the City of Kalamazoo is concerned the contaminated material could threaten the city’s water supply. The city has a firm bid from a Michigan contractor for $120 million to remove all the contaminated material for permanent disposal in a qualified landfill. That amount is far different from the $330 million figure the EPA assumed when making its decision to cap the landfill instead of removing the offending material. While this removal action would cost more than capping the landfill, the Superfund law states a clear preference for the selection of remedial actions that involve permanent removal, and thus EPA should strongly consider this remedy. Further, permanent removal may in fact be more cost-effective in the long-term since the site would not need to be monitored in perpetuity, and it could be re-developed for a variety of uses.

We ask that you continue to work with the City and community members to address their concerns and adopt the full removal option at the Allied Site given its many benefits. We urge your urgent attention to this important matter.

Sincerely,

Senator Debbie Stabenow
Senator Carl Levin
Representative Fred Upton

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