Kalamazoo River

Ryan Dy of Holland (right) and Tom Fik of Allegan (left) fishing at Allegan Dam
Rebecca Thiele, WMUK

People aren’t supposed to eat the fish out of the Kalamazoo River, but many still do. Fish in the river are contaminated with PCBs - the toxin leftover from Kalamazoo’s old paper mills. Eating the fish over time could cause cancer, birth defects, neurological issues, and other health problems. Decades ago the state put up signs warning people of the risks that come with eating the fish, but those signs aren’t reaching everyone.


A map of Area 2 of the Kalamazoo River cleanup between Plainwell and the Otsego City Dam. The lines in orange are the anabraches - which is where the EPA says most of the contamination lies.
U.S. EPA

Many people want to see the Otsego City Dam removed - including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA unveiled possible options for the next phase of the Kalamazoo River cleanup - between Plainwell and the Otsego City Dam - Wednesday night. Most of those plans included removing the dam. 

The Otsego Township Dam
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

The Environmental Protection Agency ordered what’s called a “time-critical removal action” for the area behind the Otsego Township Dam. The failing Kalamazoo River dam is struggling to hold PCBs leftover from old paper mills. The action orders the responsible parties to remove PCBs from behind the dam - even though that part of the river isn’t scheduled to be cleaned up for several years. 

State officials say that the 2010 oil spill in the Kalamazoo River likely won’t lead to long-term problems for residents who breathed in oil-related chemicals. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services today released its final report on potential health problems from chemicals from the spill in the air.

WMUK

Kalamazoo River Cleanup Coalition Executive Director Gary Wager says the Environmental Protection Agency's proposal to clean up the former Allied Paper Landfill is "essentially the same" as a plan put forward by the city last year. 


Pages