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EPA Allied Paper landfill plan faces opposition


City officials, environmentalists, and many residents aren’t happy about a federal proposal for Kalamazoo’s Allied Paper landfill. In March, officials from the Environmental Protection Agency briefed city commissioners on a proposal to leave highly toxic PCB contamination at the Superfund site. The city and the Kalamazoo River Cleanup Coalition want all of the material removed.

The Coalition will sponsor hold a public forum on the issue on Tuesday, April 2nd, at 7 p.m. at Goodwill Industries, 420 East Alcott Street, in Kalamazoo. The group was formed after Kalamazoo officials and residents successfully blocked a 2007 EPA plan to dump PCB contamination in the Kalamazoo River near Plainwell at the Allied Paper site.

Coalition Executive Director Gary Wager says leaving PCB pollution on-site will cause serious problems. Among other things, he says, if it were a new site, the EPA’s own rules would prohibit it from leaving contaminated material there.

EPA officials have said that the agency’s plan is safe and would cost only about $36 million dollars. It says completely removing the contamination would cost $366 million. But Wager says his group disputes the EPA’s estimate. He also says the Allied Paper site lacks a barrier to prevent PCB’s from leaking.

Kalamazoo City officials say a company called EQ could move all of the contamination to an approved landfill near Detroit for only $120 million. Wager says that means the cost of total removal is only three times larger than the EPA’s proposal. Wager says EPA officials have never given specific reasons why it has rejected the city’s plan.

Wager says the forum sponsored by the Kalamazoo River Cleanup Coalition will help determine how critics of the EPA will fight the agency’s proposal. The EPA says it plans to issue its final order for the landfill clean-up project later this year.

Andy Robins has been WMUK's News Director since 1998 and a broadcast journalist for over 24 years. He joined WMUK's staff in 1985. Under his direction, WMUK has received numerous awards for news reporting.