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Allied Paper Landfill Cleanup Begins

Andy Robins

Work is about to begin on one of the last major projects in the massive Kalamazoo River Superfund cleanup.

Federal and state officials held a virtual public forum on the plan May 24, 2021. It will lift toxic PCB contamination in the Allied Paper Landfill in the Ciy of Kalamazoo into a high-tech containment with barriers to protect the public. Environmental Protection Agency Project Manager Michael Berkoff says it will also capture PFAS contamination at the site between Cork and Alcott streets.

"By pulling that material back into the new configuration, getting it up high and dry above the water table, that will be potentially limiting the amount of PFAS impacting the groundwater. There will be long-term groundwater monitoring as part of the remedy."

Credit U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Map of the EPA clean-up plan for the Allied Paper Superfund Site

Earlier plans put the cost of the clean-up at a quarter-of-a-billion dollars. But Berkoff says the current plan will cost only $69 million.

"You know, as we've gotten further into the plan, it looks like that cost is coming down. We still would need additional funding beyond what's in the bankruptcy trust to be able to complete the remedy. But we're not concerned about our ability to access the necessary money."

Dan Peabody with the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy says the contamination won't get loose while the excavation work is underway.

"Although I know we had a series of dust monitoring locations set up, and we I don't think ever saw a single exceedance."

Kalamazoo City officials say once the clean-up is complete, most of the area can be reclaimed for use as commercial and recreational space. Mayor Dave Anderson says the prospect is exciting.

"This is going to be so transformative for this site and that part of the City by the time we get this done, I can't tell you how happy I am about it."

The EPA and the City plan to hold more public information sessions as the four-year clean-up project moves ahead.