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Michigan's "Black Lagoon" To Be First Great Lakes Legacy Act Cleanup

The Black Lagoon on the Detroit River in Trenton, Mich. will be the first contaminated sediment site to be cleaned up under the Great Lakes Legacy Act.

Site preparation begins this week and the dredging will begin in mid-October. The project will be completed using $4.2 million in Legacy Act funds and $2.3 million from the Clean Michigan Initiative.

"Purging the Black Lagoon underscores our commitment to protecting the Great Lakes," said EPA Administrator Mike Leavitt. "Targeting this riverbed contamination means every drop of water flowing through here will be cleaner."

Steven E. Chester, the director of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, said the improved water quality of the Great Lakes and Michigan's lakes and streams is a top priority for the state.

"With 14 areas of concern within Michigan's borders alone, it is crucial that funding match our commitment to the restoration of these critical bodies of water," he added.

Contaminated sediment in the lagoon is a source of pollution to the Detroit River and ultimately Lake Erie. EPA and MDEQ will remove approximately 90,000 cubic yards of sediment contaminated with mercury, PCBs, oil and grease, lead and zinc from the bottom of the lagoon. Mercury and PCBs are the leading causes of fish consumption advisories in the Great Lakes.

The cleanup is expected to be completed by mid-January. Once the sediment is removed, it will be disposed of in the Pointe Mouillee Confined Disposal Facility. The bottom of the lagoon will then be covered with sand and rock. The city of Trenton plans to redevelop the area including construction of a marina.

The Great Lakes Legacy Act authorizes $270 million in funding over 5 years, beginning this year, to assist with the remediation of contaminated sediment in "areas of concern," toxic hot spots around the Great Lakes.

The Black Lagoon was chosen as the first project to be funded because the type, amount and extent of the contaminants are well known and they are confined to one area making it possible to improve the environment quickly.

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