WestSouthwest: Cleaning up a Superfund site

Dec 11, 2013

Allied Paper Landfill - file photo
Credit WMUK

As 2013 comes to an end, the future of the Allied Paper remains unclear. Many citizens are urging the  Environmental Protection Agency to approve a complete clean of PCB contamination. 

But retired Kalamazoo Public Services Director Bruce Merchant says a quick decision may not yield the best result. He says more time could allow time to present a feasible option for total removal. 

The EPA has said a "cap and monitor" approach would cost less than total removal. But Merchant and Kalamazoo River Clean up Coalition Executive Director Gary Wager say waste disposal company Environmental Quality can remove the contamination for less than the EPA has estimated. 

Bruce Merchant at a rally in May calling for removal of all PCB contamination from Allied Paper Landfill site
Credit WMUK

Merchant says the "cap and monitor" option doesn't safeguard groundwater, and leaves the land unavailable for other uses. Wager says other areas where that method has been used are usually more rural, not not in an a city setting like Kalamazoo. 

The main argument against a complete clean up is cost. Wager says he and other activists need to apply pressure on elected representatives to find a way to fund a total removal of PCB contamination. Merchant says cost will always be an issue. The bankruptcy of the company responsible for the Allied Paper landfill site has made finding the money for clean up even more difficult.