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Environment & Climate Change

After decades of effort, 2 major pollution sites in Michigan finally cleaned up

The Environmental Protection Agency announced today two toxic hot spots in Michigan have been cleaned up.

Work is now complete at White Lake in Muskegon County and Deer Lake in the Upper Peninsula.

The sites are on a list of about 40 toxic hot spots surrounding the Great Lakes; 14 sites are in Michigan.

Canada and the U.S. created the list in 1987 to clean up sites contaminated before modern environmental laws were passed. Not much actual cleanup work happened until 2010, when the federal government starting providing more money through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

More than 100,000 cubic yards of sediment were removed from White Lake near Muskegon. The sediment was full of contamination from tannery operations and a chemical company that once dumped waste into White Lake.

In the Upper Peninsula, mercury was leaching into Deer Lake from an abandoned iron mine. It’s caused high levels of mercury in fish and reproductive problems for bald eagles. Water was diverted from the abandoned mine.

In a release issued this morning, state and federal elected leaders praised the work communities did and the federal investment in the initiative.

Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., will be at event in White Lake tonight to celebrate the delisting.

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