Allied superfund site redevelopment proposed

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Allied Paper Mill Toxic

KALAMAZOO, Mich. – A plan is on the table to redevelop the Allied Paper site in Kalamazoo.

The site, which sits between East Alcott St, East Cork St., South Burdick St. and Portage St., is currently fenced off.

There are also signs warning that the ground is contaminated.

The paper mill, which used to occupy the land, used PCBs – chemicals known to cause birth defects and other health problems.

According to information from the deputy city manager, the plan addresses ground-water concerns, financial limitations and the future of surrounding neighborhoods.

The framework of the plan is below:

– Reduce the 42 existing acres of PCB-contaminated soil to 23 acres by consolidating existing materials into a larger hill on part of the site and safely capping it. Conversely, the option to dig out and remove all PCB soil would result in creation of an expansive unbuildable wetland at the Site as well as thousands of semi-truck trips through the adjoining neighborhoods.

–Reclaim 15-20 acres of the site for potential redevelopment that would improve the neighborhoods, create employment opportunities, and add to the tax roll.

–Create a fund for ongoing environmental monitoring to assure future groundwater quality. Recent testing has shown no indication that the PCBs originating from carbonless paper production have migrated away from the Site.

–Create new recreational space adjacent to neighborhoods with an opportunity for community input on how it’s developed. Fencing currently surrounding the area could be eliminated and a trail linking the cities of Kalamazoo and Portage could traverse the land, improving connectivity.

–Establish a more economically feasible solution. Officials peg the rough cost estimate for the redevelopment option at $57-$67 million, compared to $120-$360 million estimated for total removal. Assets from a bankruptcy settlement with the former industrial owner now stand at close to $50 million. City officials said the redevelopment option would still require some local fundraising and there are no federal funding earmarks available to supplement either option.

– Interact realistically with EPA’s priority for the Allied Superfund site. According to City officials, on a scale of 1 to 10 where 10s are considered the most serious environmental contamination sites, EPA assesses Allied as a 1 (lowest priority) among the hundreds it overseas nationwide.

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