Updated: Apr 24, 2021
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is working with NCR Corporation,
Michigan Department of Natural Resources, and Michigan Department of
Environment, Great Lakes and Energy on a project to remove PCB-contaminated
sediment and soil along the Kalamazoo River near the Trowbridge Dam in
Trowbridge Township. Polychlorinated Biphenyls or PCBs are a group of man-
made organic chemicals. PCBs were domestically manufactured from 1929 until
manufacturing was banned in 1979. PCBs do not readily break down once in the
environment and can bioaccumulate. The work will take place upstream of the
Trowbridge Dam. The project is very complex and may take three or more years to
complete. This work is important to remove contaminated sediment, stabilize
riverbanks to prevent future contamination and erosion, improve water quality, and
reduce contamination in fish.
Upcoming Work in Your Area
This year, EPA will continue surveying and sampling sediment and
soil to define the extent of the PCB contamination to be removed. This
summer, crews will be clearing land and preparing a staging area for equipment
and materials at the 26th Street boat launch.
Planning and preparations are also underway for construction of a temporary
water control structure to manage river levels during the cleanup. Last year,
workers completed removal of a power pole on the dam and relocated high
voltage power lines to allow access for safe construction activity. EPA plans to
remove the water control structure and the remaining structures of the dam at
the end of the project.
EPA expects that dredging of sediment and soils to begin in 2022 and that final
dam removal will take place in 2024.
About the Allied Paper/Portage Creek/Kalamazoo River Site
This portion of the Kalamazoo River is in what EPA calls Area 4 of Operable Unit
5 at the Allied Paper Inc./Portage Creek/Kalamazoo River Superfund site. The
Trowbridge Dam Area begins near the Lynx Golf Course and follows the river west
to the Trowbridge Dam. The Superfund site is almost entirely on land owned by
MDNR, bordered by wetlands, undeveloped properties and residences. Between
1954 and the 1970s, wastewater from the carbonless copy paper recycling process
contaminated the area, releasing PCBs into the environment. In 1977, a public
health advisory recommended residents not to eat fish caught from the river due to
PCBs found in the fish. In 1990, the EPA placed the site on the National Priorities
List, a roster of the nation’s hazardous waste sites. Since then, cleanups continue.
More about EPA’s progress can be found at www.epa.gov/superfund/allied-paper-