WSW: Negotiating a Plan for Removing Contamination
"Ideally, we'd like to see the PCBs removed." But Kalamazoo Deputy City Manager Jeff Chamberlain says neither the city nor the federal government can afford that.
A proposed new plan for the former Allied Paper Landfill was announced in December. It calls for the removal of some of the contamination from the Superfund site in Kalamazoo. (Note: WMUK's Gordon Evans incorrectly identifies the area as "a former Superfund site" during the interview).The rest would be contained in a small area. The city hopes some of the site can be redeveloped for recreation.
Chamberlain and Kalamazoo River Cleanup Coalition member Denise Keele joined WMUK's Gordon Evans to discuss the new proposal. Keele is also a Professor of Political Science and Environmental Sustainability Studies at Western Michigan University.
Chamberlain and Keele both say removing all PCB material is the preferred outcome. But Chamberlain says "having a landfill with a big fence around it is not a preferred outcome." Keele says the 100% solution is total removal of PCBs. But she says this proposal is "movement in the right direction." Keele says groundwater monitoring has been improved, and is an important aspect of the plan.
The new proposal would cost between $57-million and $67-million, according to Chamberlain. He says the EPA has about $50-million set aside the the Allied Paper site. Chamberlain says total cleanup would have cost between $150-million to $300-million. He says some federal and state grants may help fill the gap left if the EPA money can't cover the full costs.
Keele says community engagement is a key factor in how these types of decisions are made. She says the Environmental Protection Agency has to consider a number of factors, such as cost and environmental impact. But Keele says the community has a chance to have its voice heard on the issue.
Chamberlain says there will some public meetings to inform citizens about the proposal, and to get feedback on what people would like to see in the area. He says in order for this proposal to come to fruition, the Environmental Protection Agency would have to include it among the options for the former Allied Paper Landfill. The EPA will make the final decision on what happens with the site.