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After decades of work, Lower Fox River, Green Bay cleanup projects end

By: Ethan Duran//January 11, 2023//

After decades of work, Lower Fox River, Green Bay cleanup projects end

By: Ethan Duran//January 11, 2023//

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A decades-long cleanup of the Lower Fox River and Green Bay has wrapped up as the Department of Natural Resources announced its State Closure process on Monday.

The Environmental Protection Agency certified in October cleanup work for the Lower Fox River PCB cleanup project which allows the DNR to begin the closure process. The two agencies partnered in 2004 to clean up polychlorinated biphenyl compounds, or PCBs, from sediment in 39 miles of the Lower Fox River and the bay of Green Bay.

Crews from the DNR, the EPA, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, tribal nations and corporations finished their cleanup work in 2020. Now they will have to mail letters to people who live and work along the river before DNR issues final closure approval.

The wildlife agency mailed letters in January to around 1,400 riverfront property owners to inform them of project completion and request for final closure, officials said. The letters will tell recipients about cap areas and ask them not to disturb those areas.

PCBs are toxic chemicals used in production and recycling of carbonless copy paper in the 1950s through the 1970s, wildlife officials said. Crews pulled 6.5 million cubic yards of contaminated sediment through hydraulic dredging and installed engineered caps on another 275 acres of riverbed.

Georgia Pacific, Glatfelter Corp. and NCR Corp. spearheaded cleanup work and were responsible for costs, officials said. The companies will also routinely monitor caps to ensure the cleanup is successful.

Wildlife officials will perform long-term testing to measure PCBs in sediment, surface water and in the tissue of local fish, officials said. Test results showed the PCB concentrations dropped compared to concentrations measured in 2006 for the upper reaches of the river.

Wildlife agencies will test the river and the bay every five years until cleanup goals are satisfied, officials added.


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