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PCB Cleanup Continues on Fox River in Green Bay

Posted on October 31, 2016

By Eric Peterson, FOX 11 News

The end may be in sight for a billion-dollar dredging project on the Lower Fox River in the Green Bay area.

Eight years ago, crews started dredging the 13-mile stretch of the waterway from Little Rapids, near Wrightstown, downriver to the mouth of the Fox River in downtown Green Bay.

And while work may be winding down for this season, there is still at least one more year to go.

At the spot where the Fox and East Rivers flow together, a dredging barge deliberately vacuums up contaminated sediment below.

“We’re moving downstream, and continuing to move. Some of the activities this year have been right in the heart of Green Bay, in the downtown area, said Scott Stein, Fox River Cleanup Project Spokesperson.

Just upstream, barges anchored along the shoreline, pump the material to a processing facility nearby.

“There, as much water and sand as possible is taken out, and then the filter cake, as we call it, is transported to the landfill in Calumet County,” said Stein.

The PCB cleanup is one of the largest ever attempted. In total, more than four million cubic yards of sediment have been dredged so far.

“The cleanup is to remove those sediments, or contaminants from the system, improve the health of the fish and wildlife, and make a better environment both for the natural resources and the people that use them,” said John Huff, Department of Natural Resources Area Wildlife Supervisor.

So is the cleanup process working? The D.N.R. says advisories at many boat launches have been relaxed, and anglers are now able to catch and eat certain types of fish previously considered to be off limits.

“We’re seeing some really promising results, particularly upriver, in the sections of river where the sediment removal has been completed,” said Huff.

And where work needs to be done, people will have to share the Fox River at least another summer.

“We’ll run again until mid-November, and wrap things up. Then it’s a matter of finalizing the plans for next year, and making sure the equipment is all in shape and ready to go when we start things up in the spring again,” said Stein.

The project is estimated to cost as much as $1 billion.

And it’s still not certain who’s paying.

A group of Paper Companies has been ordered to pay, but they are still fighting in federal court with the next trial scheduled for March.

Source: Fox11 News

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