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Compromise would allow some development on major polluted site in Kalamazoo

Lindsey Smith
Michigan Radio

The city of Kalamazoo wants federal regulators to consider a new option for an old landfill that's full of toxic material. The Allied Site served as a dumping ground for the paper mill industry for decades. No mills have operated on the site since the early 1980s.

The community wants all the contaminated soil removed. But there’s not enough money.

“I think the ideal is still total removal. Everybody would still like to see that. And yet nobody’s writing a check,” Burce Merchant, a city consultant said.

Merchant says city, state and federal officials have been talking about a compromise. Under the plan, workers would consolidate contaminated soil in a hill that takes up less acreage. That way there could be some development on the rest of the site.

“This would be a different option that frankly wasn’t considered because redevelopment hadn’t even been discussed,” Merchant said.

Merchant says federal regulators are open to the idea. But it’s not clear yet how it could be included in the federal Superfund process.

Currently, regulators are proposing a plan that would include capping the site with no redevelopment. The compromise plan would be more expensive, but less expensive than total removal the community favors.

Lindsey Smith helps lead the station's Amplify Team. She previously served as Michigan Radio’s Morning News Editor, Investigative Reporter and West Michigan Reporter.
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