Major Great Lakes contaminated site cleanup complete

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SHEBOYGAN, WI, June 19, 2013 -- The Sheboygan River of the Great Lakes was removed from the "Area of Concern" list of toxic hot spots identified in the 1987 Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. The news was announced by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

"Thanks to the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative -- and our dedicated federal, state and local partners -- we have finished cleaning up one of the most contaminated sites on the Great Lakes," said Susan Hedman, EPA Region 5 Administrator and Great Lakes National Program Manager, at a River Restoration Celebration today in Sheboygan. "By working together, we have been able to complete all of the work needed to transform this beautiful Lake Michigan tributary from an area of concern to an area of recovery."

Over $80 million has been spent to dredge contaminated sediment and restore habitat in the Sheboygan River Area of Concern. The cleanup work was funded largely through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and by responsible parties through the EPA Superfund program. The State of Wisconsin, the city of Sheboygan and Sheboygan County contributed approximately $5 million to the final phase of the river cleanup.

During the past year, almost 400,000 cubic yards of contaminated sediment were removed from the Sheboygan River between Kiwanis Park and Lake Michigan. Three EPA-funded habitat projects were completed to restore the shoreline at Kiwanis Park, on Wildwood Island, and near the intersection of Taylor Drive and Indiana Avenue in Sheboygan.

"The City of Sheboygan would like to recognize and thank U.S. EPA, the Wisconsin Departments of Natural Resources and Transportation and Sheboygan County for their partnership and cooperation on the Sheboygan River dredging and restoration," said Mayor Michael Vandersteen. "This was truly an example of inter-governmental collaboration at its best. The citizens of Sheboygan will benefit from this effort."

Of the 43 AOCs identified by the United States and Canada, only two on the U.S. side of the border have been "delisted." The Sheboygan River AOC is one of nine Areas of Concern targeted for cleanup in 2013 and 2014 using Great Lakes Restoration Initiative funding. The Sheboygan River AOC is the first of these Areas of Concern to be completed. GLRI funds are also being used to accelerate cleanup work in the remaining AOCs.

The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative was proposed by President Obama at the start of his first term.

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