EPA, Wisconsin and Two Paper Mills Sign Agreement for $60 Million Cleanup

EPA Region 5 and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) have signed an agreement with WTM I (formerly Wisconsin Tissue) and P.H. Glatfelter Co. under which the companies will clean up PCB-contaminated sediment in the Little Lake Butte des Morts section of the Lower Fox River between Lake Winnebago and Appleton, Wisc.

"This consent decree requires the two paper mills to perform the cleanup work outlined in the January 2003 record of decision," said EPA Regional Administrator Tom Skinner. "It's a strong commitment by the mills and it bodes well for additional agreements that address the rest of the contamination."

In addition to performing the cleanup, the companies will be required to pay $3 million for natural resource damages and $1.05 million as partial reimbursement of costs incurred by EPA, WDNR and the U.S. Department of the Interior.

The Little Lake Butte des Morts cleanup plan calls for dredging an estimated 784,000 cubic yards of contaminated sediment. Water will be drained from the material, with the water then treated and returned to the river. The dried sediment will be transported to an engineered landfill for permanent disposal. Detailed engineering design work for the cleanup has already begun under an earlier agreement with WTM I.

EPA and WDNR have estimated the cost of the Little Lake Butte des Mort cleanup work at $61.7 million, plus $4.5 million for long-term monitoring. Savings may result from contributions and cooperation by local municipalities. WTM I and Glatfelter would pay for the work using a specially dedicated fund that would ultimately hold more than $60 million.

The fund would include $50 million from WTM I and Glatfelter, plus $10 million available under a prior settlement reached with Appleton Paper and NCR, plus interest earned on the money placed in the fund. Even if the fund is not sufficient to finance completion of the cleanup, the agreement reserves EPA's and WDNR's rights to require WTM I and Glatfelter to perform or pay for the continuation and completion of the work.

The agreement does not address cleanup work that will be required in the downstream portions of the river and Green Bay. EPA and WDNR are in ongoing discussions with the paper companies concerning that cleanup work.

Information on the Fox River cleanup can be found in public library reference sections in Appleton, Green Bay, Oneida, Oshkosh and Sturgeon Bay. Information is also online at www.epa.gov/region5/sites/foxriver.

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