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Kalamazoo leaders unhappy with EPA plan to clean toxic chemicals from old paper mills

David Kinsey
Creative Commons

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is working to clean up toxic chemicals along an 80 mile stretch of the Kalamazoo River. But Kalamazoo city leaders aren’t happy with the federal agency's proposed plan.

The effort is focused on cleaning up toxic chemicals, known as PCBs, left behind from several paper mills.

The EPA wants to consolidate the material and cap it so water cannot get in.

But Kalamazoo City Commissioner Donald Cooney says city leaders and residents want to see the waste hauled away.

“We do not want those PCBs leaking into our aquifers,” Cooney said, “They’re telling us ‘oh no well we’ll put a top on it, it’ll be fine.’ We’re saying wait a minute, even if it were fine for a couple years, what happens down the line?”

The EPA did not have anyone immediately available to speak about the options considered.

Complete removal of the contaminated material was the most expensive of the options considered.

“We’re in the process now of trying to alert the community to what is being proposed and rallying the community to fight against this,” Cooney said.

Cooney and other city leaders will host a special public meeting Tuesdaynight to do that.  It's at 7 p.m. at Goodwill Industries of Southwest Michigan.

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