RESOURCES & LINKS
EPA & SUPERFUND TOPICS
FAQs and Weblinks
General Information about the agency
The EPA is a federal government agency facilitating the clean-up. They collaborate with numerous other agencies, including the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) and the Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
Background on the Superfund program
Congress established the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) in 1980 in response to national outrage over risks human health and the environment posed by toxic waste dumps such as Love Canal and Valley of the Drums.
CERCLA, informally called Superfund, allows EPA to clean up contaminated sites. It also forces the parties responsible for the contamination to either perform cleanups or reimburse the government for EPA-led cleanup work.
WHAT ARE THE CONTAMINANTS IN THE KALAMAZOO RIVER?
The main contaminants leading to the Superfund designation and ongoing cleanup are polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) that were introduced to Portage Creek and the Kalamazoo River through past discharges and disposal of PCB-contaminated paper residuals by the paper industry.
Since 1998, EPA has removed nearly 450,000 cubic yards of contaminated material from the site, cleaned up and restored seven miles of the Kalamazoo River and banks, and capped 82 acres worth of contaminated material to lock it away.
WHO PAYS FOR THE CLEAN-UP?
Under the law, EPA can require PRPs to pay for the cleanup of a contaminated site. EPA and the Kalamazoo River PRPs (current and former owners of paper mills along the river) have entered into a number of legal agreements wherein the PRPs will either reimburse EPA for cleaning up the site, or conduct cleanup activities with EPA oversight. PRPs for the Kalamazoo River Superfund site include Allied Paper, Georgia Pacific, and Weyerhauser (parent company of Plainwell Paper). Learn more...
BUT, WHAT ABOUT PFAS?
MPART— Michigan PFAS Action Response Team
PFAS are not currently part of the Kalamazoo River Superfund Site clean-up. For information about PFAS sites and clean-up efforts, please visit this website put together by MPART (Michigan PFAS Action Response Team).
WATER & ENVIRONMENTAL TOPICS
The Kalamazoo Watershed is part of the land of the Council of the Three Fires— the Ojibwe, the Odawa, and the Potawatomi. At the end of the 18th century, the Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Potawatomi inhabited the Kalamazoo River Valley and had its primary village at the head of the Kalamazoo River. Their descendants belong to the sovereign nation known as the Gun Lake Tribe, which has an environmental branch that “promotes environmental and human health through conservation and management, improving sustainability of our natural and environmental resources for the next seven generations.” Many of their projects address the ecology of the Kalamazoo River and Watershed.
The Kalamazoo River Watershed Council* is a public, nonprofit 501(c)3 organization whose mission is to work collaboratively with the community, government agencies, local officials, and businesses to improve and protect the health of the Kalamazoo River, its tributaries, and its watershed. Their website has extensive information about the watershed, the challenges it is facing, and activities/programs on and about the Kalamazoo River.
For the Love Of Water (FLOW) is an environmental conservation organization working towards protecting the Great Lakes now and in the future. It aims to connect citizens and organizations to drive behavior change by instilling a deeper appreciation, understanding and respect for water. Their website has extensive information about water conservation, ongoing legal battles to protect the Great Lakes, and ways that individual citizens can get involved.
COMMUNITY & PUBLIC HEALTH