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EPA presents $46.4 million plan to clean Kalamazoo River

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OTSEGO, Mich. -- Dozens of people showed up to hear from the Environmental Protection Agency about what it will take to clean up a segment of the Kalamazoo River.

The EPA is trying to remove dangerous chemicals and PCBs left behind by the paper industry on a two-mile stretch of the river downstream from the former Plainwell dam.

The EPA is recommending what they call Alternative Plan 5, which calls for spending $46.4 million to excavate the flood plain soil, remove contaminated sediment, and remove the Otsego dam.

“It’s protective, it’s long term and permanent," said Jim Saric, the project manager for the EPA. “It’s going to protect the ecological receptors and, ultimately, in the long term when you do get flooding you are not going to have PCB material moving downstream."

And with chemical levels on everyone’s minds, the EPA says it plans to monitor the site for the next 32 years.

“I think the EPA and other parties working with us are doing a great job,” said Andy Webb, chair of the Otsego Township Planning Commission. “They’re really doing a great job at reaching out to the community.”

Public comment on the proposed plans will be accepted until August 30. The EPA will review all the comments before making a decision.

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