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Next phase of notorious Superfund cleanup set to begin

Velsicol Chemical operating on the banks of the Pine River in St. Louis, Michigan.
Pine River Citizen Superfund Task Force
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Velsicol Chemical operating on the banks of the Pine River in St. Louis, Michigan.

This week, federal and state environmental regulators announced a new phase in the cleanup of a notorious Michigan Superfund site.

The Velsicol Chemical Corporation (formerly Michigan Chemical) operated a plant in St. Louis, Michigan from the 1930s into the 1970s.

Spills and chemical discharges contaminated sediment, surface soil and groundwater. The site has become one of the nation’s costliest Superfund sites.

The Pine River portion of the cleanup has cost over $100 million and has removed more than 670,000 cubic yards of DDT-laced sediment from the river.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Michigan’s Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) say workers will soon start preparing to excavate approximately 100,000 tons of contaminated soil from the southern portion of the former Velsicol Chemical Corporation property.

Excavation will continue this year while weather permits and will resume in the spring.

EPA anticipates that the cleanup will be done by fall 2023, and restoration work will be completed in 2024. All contaminated soil will be transported offsite for proper disposal.

The company was responsible for a chemical mix-up that led to contamination of the food supply in Michigan back in 1973.

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Radio since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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