EPA Administrator Mike Leavitt announced the increase in Great Lakes Legacy Act funding while visiting Belle Isle, an island park in the Detroit River, which is one of 31 heavily polluted "Areas of Concern." Leavitt was joined by Council on Environmental Quality Chairman Jim Connaughton.
The $45 million will be used to start or further the cleanup of four to six of the "Areas of Concern," which have sediment that is heavily contaminated with PCBs, heavy metals and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). The request is a $35 million increase over 2004 Legacy Act funding. The budget also seeks an additional $3 million for the Great Lakes Program for restoration projects and an additional $1 million for research into the control of invasive species such as the zebra mussel and Asian carp that plague the Great Lakes.
"This major increase in funding demonstrates the President's commitment to preserving and protecting these Great Lakes," said Leavitt. "Accelerating the cleanup of these contaminated areas will help keep the pollution from moving out into the lakes where cleanup becomes dramatically more difficult."
EPA will work with states, tribes and other stakeholders to identify sites that will receive money for cleanup. Funds could enhance an existing cleanup or help start a new project.