Posted by: Lawyer Sanders | December 24, 2008

Environmental lawyer Sanders says Tetra Tech chosen as lead contractor for massive cleanup of PCB contamination in sediments of Lower Fox River.

The Fox River is a river in eastern and central Wisconsin in the United States. The Lower Fox River links Lake Winnebago with the Bay of Green Bay.  The Lower Fox River is home to many industrial plants, including a number of paper mills.  Some of these paper mills produced carbon-less copy paper, which contained PCBs as an integral ingredient.  The use of PCBs in making and recycling of carbon-less paper stopped in the 1970s.  The paper mills use of PCBs contaminated the river’s sediments and the Fox River was placed on the National Priority List by U.S. EPA in the 1990s.  

Looking back, the NCR Corporation and Appleton Paper Company began discharging PCB-contaminated wastewater into the Fox River, as a by-product of their joint production of PCB-coated carbonless copy paper in 1954.  Shortly thereafter, five other paper companies started recycling the PCB-contaminated trimmings and wastepaper originating from Appleton Paper Company, and they also began dumping PCBs into the Fox River with their wastewater.   PCBs, which are a chemical family of more than 200 different highly toxic compounds, accumulate in the fatty tissue of animals, including fish, waterfowl, and humans. 

To clean up the river’s heavily polluted sediments, seven paper companies (collectively known as the “Fox River Group”) are being held responsible for the contamination. The companies are Appleton Papers Inc., NCR, Fort James Corp. (now Georgia-Pacific Corp.), P.H. Glatfelter Co., Riverside Paper Corp., Wisconsin Tissue Mills Inc. (now WTM1), and U.S. Paper Mills Corp.

After much intense wrangling, heated debate, and planning over the past 25 years, the Fox River Group selected Tetra Tech, Inc. for the first phase of a design-build sediment remediation program for the Lower Fox River in Green Bay, Wisconsin —one of the largest sediment remediation programs in the world.

Tetra Tech plans to remediate approximately 4 million cubic yards of sediment contaminated with PCBs.   The cleanup is estimated to cost about $600 to $700 million, which will be spread out over about 10 years.   Let’s hope that Tetra-Tech is successful in remediating PCB contamination in the bottom the Lower Fox River.

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