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New Allied Paper Cleanup Plan Proposed


Kalamazoo City officials say they have a new plan for the Allied Paper Landfill Superfund site. It would leave toxic PCB contamination there but contain it in a smaller area. They say that would eventually allow redevelopment of some of the site, including a link between the Kalamazoo River Valley Trail and the Bicentennial Trail in Portage.

City officials, residents, and environmentalists had earlier insisted that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency remove all of contamination. But Deputy Kalamazoo City Manager Jeff Chamberlain says the cost of doing that is probably too great. He says the new proposal is more realistic but still serves the needs of the community.

"We think this is an opportunity where we could actually open the site in the future for public use, whether it's for economic development or recreation, as opposed to basically having, under the original cap and containment, was to just leave it there, cap it, put a big fence around it - basically a "No Trespassing' sign for the community into the future. That was not acceptable for us."

The head of the Kalamazoo River Clean-up Coalition agrees. But Gary Wager says the process is far from over, adding, "The EPA would have to take the relatively unprecedented, I don't want to say unheard of but very unusual step, once they've finalized a feasibility study, (of) modify(ing) the feasibility study to include the proposal being put forth by the City."

The current feasibility study includes four possible clean-up scenarios, including two "cap and contain" proposals. But Wager says the City’s version is a big improvement on those.

The pollution at the Allied Paper site is the legacy of decades of paper manufacturing there. The estimated cost of hauling all of it away could reach $360 million. City officials say their new plan shouldn't cost more than $67 million. Chamberlain says it emerged after months of talks between the City, the EPA, and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.

Kalamazoo City officials say public meetings on the new proposal will be held in early 2015.

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.