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Trenton's former McLouth Steel site put on EPA's Superfund National Priorities List

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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has named the former McLouth Steel site in Trenton to its Superfund National Priorities List.

That list is reserved for sites with the most serious or uncontrolled legacy contamination. The contamination on the southern end of the property is from steel-making processes and an acid pickling line operation, according to the EPA.

The designation comes after a private buyer, Crown Enterprises, purchased most of the property from the Wayne County Land Bank last year after it had gone through tax foreclosure.

Crown reached an agreement with state and federal agencies, including the EPA, to take care of clean-up on the south end of the site. That includes removing asbestos, PCBs, and contained waste from 45 structures before demolishing them; and removing below-ground contaminated water and sludges from the property. In return for the cleanup activities, the government agreed not to sue over the legacy contamination.

The Superfund designation now allows the cleanup to receive federal funds. It was the only Michigan site to receive the designation this year.

It’s unclear what the site’s future holds post-cleanup, but both government officials and Crown Enterprises have pledged to return it to “productive use.”

“Cleaning up the southern portion of the McLouth Steel site will not only improve the human health and the environment but will spur economic growth and opportunity,” said EPA Regional Administrator Cathy Stepp in a prepared statement. “Restoring sites to productive use is part of EPA’s core mission.”

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Public in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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