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River Raisin cleanup almost completed after 20 years of work

Dredging on the River Raisin. A mechanical dredge removing material on July 11, 2012.

State and federal officials are celebrating the completion of a twenty-year river cleanup effort in southeast Michigan.

The River Raisin was once one of the most polluted rivers in Michigan. It will soon be clean enough for both commercial navigation and recreational use.

The Environmental Protection Agency says the cleanup effort is in its final stage, which is set to be finished by the end of October.

Cameron Davis is senior advisor to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy.

"By cleaning up the pollution, we are helping commerce, and we are helping public health, and we are helping the environment all at the same time," Davis says.

Jon Allan is the Director of Michigan's Office of the Great Lakes.

"This has been a major industrial river for decades, and for decades in Michigan and all throughout the Great Lakes, we had our backs turned to the water, which means this is where we put all our waste and our refuse," Allan says.

The river was tainted by factories, municipal wastewater, landfills and farms. 

The primary forms of pollution were PCBs and heavy metals.

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