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Papermaker NCR agrees to complete Fox River cleanup

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A papermaker has agreed to shoulder the financial burden for completing cleanup work on the Fox River in a settlement, federal environmental officials said Tuesday.

The U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced that NCR Corp. has entered into a consent decree to finish the final phase of removing polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, from bottom sediment. The two agencies said in a news release that the work will be mostly dredging and will cost up to $200 million over the next few years. Under the agreement NCR must complete the work by the end of 2018.

Paper production in the 1950s and 1960s was a major source of PCBs in the river. Federal officials believe PCBs can probably cause cancer in humans as well as elevated blood pressure.

Sediment cleanup on the river began in 2004. The federal government and the state in 2010 sued NCR and other parties, including other paper companies to force them to continue the work. The government has reached settlements with most of the other parties that contributed to contamination, including deals calling for natural resource damage assessments and restoration projects chosen by federal, state and tribal trustees.

The agencies said in a news release that NCR has done much of the dredging on the river under protest during the last several years. Caps are holding much of the rest of the contaminated sediment in place.
The cleanup will greatly reduce the amount of PCBs that reach Green Bay. Once NCR finishes the work, Georgia-Pacific and Glatfelter will be responsible for long-term monitoring under prior court orders.

An NCR attorney didn’t immediately respond to a message.

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