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Region 5 news releases related to the cleanup and restoration of the Lower Fox River

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1999


EPA: Fox River Study Results Available

Technical Contact: James Hahnenberg (312) 353-4213
Legal Contact: Roger Grimes (312) 886-6595

For Immediate Release: November 4, 1999
No. 99-OPA316

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources are making public today two, independent peer-review studies on cleanup of the Lower Fox River.

In September 1998, EPA's contractor selected experts and established two technical panels to review components of the draft Lower Fox River Remedial Investigation and Feasibility Study (cleanup plan). The first panel consisted of experts in Superfund data evaluation and decision making. A second panel included experts in natural recovery and behavior of toxic chemicals.

The Superfund data panel concluded that environmental information used to develop the cleanup plan supports moving ahead with a cleanup. The natural-recovery panel said that the natural-recovery option needed a more complete evaluation. Conclusions and recommendations of both panels will be evaluated and incorporated into the cleanup plan.

EPA and Wisconsin agree:

1. with the panels' conclusion that existing information on similar sediment cleanup projects is sufficient to make a final cleanup decision;

2. with the panels' assessments that the water-quality models used in the cleanup study appear to be appropriate for determining cleanup alternatives;

3. that a better explanation on the models is needed in the cleanup study; and

4. that further comparisons between natural recovery and other cleanup options are needed.

While technical evaluations show that the natural-recovery option for the Lower Fox River is unlikely to protect people's health and wildlife from PCB's, a more extensive evaluation of the option will be developed in the final draft of the study.

According to William Muno, EPA Region 5's Superfund Division director, the information in the reports will be used for completing the cleanup study. "We were very glad to have had this chance to review the peer-review reports," he said. "EPA and Wisconsin believe that these reports gave us some good information, which we'll use when completing the cleanup study and for developing a final cleanup plan."

Ed Lynch, Wisconsin's Project Manager who oversees development of the cleanup study, believes that the peer-review panel's results support several proposed changes to the plan as the cleanup study nears completion. "These ideas, as well as the work that is being completed by the model evaluation work group, will strengthen the assessment and results of the study and remediation plan selection effort."

The peer-review studies and other site information will be available at 10 local information repositories and at EPA's Web-site: www.epa.gov/region5/foxriver.

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EPA OK'S $1.5 MILLION FOX RIVER CLEANUP PLAN GRANT TO WDNR

Technical Contact: Jim Hahnenberg (312) 353-4213
Media Contact: Bri Bill (312) 353-6646
Susan Pastor (312) 353-1325

For Immediate Release: October 27, 1999
No. 99-OPA309

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 5 today announced it has approved a $1.5 million grant to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR). The funding supplements previous grants totaling $2 million during Fiscal Years 1997-1998, for a total of $3.5 million.

The grant supports WDNR's work on a remedial investigation and feasibility study, which will provide comprehensive engineering, planning, and scientific analysis to support the proposed cleanup plan for the Fox River and Green Bay. A late 1999 completion date for WDNR's proposed plan was anticipated. However, the proposed plan is now expected to be released in late spring 2000.

The additional funds and time will allow WDNR to respond to public comments and to incorporate them into the draft plan, released in February, 1999. New data on PCB concentrations in sediments, water, fish, and birds will also be included in the report.

EPA has requested that the work be expanded to include a complete remedial investigation, a feasibility study with alternative evaluations, and a risk assessment for both human and ecological health for the entire bay of Green Bay. This is in addition to the work already done for 39 miles of the Fox River.

The expanded scope was recommended by EPA's National Remedy Review Board, an internal panel composed of scientist-policymakers in EPA. The board provides to EPA regions recommendations and advice on large and costly proposed cleanups for environmental integrity, cost effectiveness, and consistency with national policy.

"EPA is committing these additional resources--and time-- in an effort to provide the most thorough, scientifically comprehensive analysis possible," said Regional Administrator Francis X. Lyons. "Expanding the scope of the study to include Green Bay should, by no means, be taken as an indicator that EPA envisions large-scale cleanup of the bay. However, we do need to know what the PCB impacts have been and what needs to be done to reduce additional environmental pollution in the future."

After revisions are made, WDNR and EPA will release the study which will include a proposed cleanup plan and a public-comment period.

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EPA TO SPONSOR THREE "INTRODUCTION TO SUPERFUND" WORKSHOPS, JULY 26-28; PRE-REGISTRATION REQUIRED

Media Contact: Bri Bill (312) 353-6646
Susan Pastor 353-1325

For Immediate Release: July 1, 1999
No. 99-OPA182

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 5 will sponsor three "Introduction to Superfund" workshops in the Fox Valley area, July 26-28. The workshops are free, but space is limited and pre-registration is required.

The workshops---which EPA sponsors periodically at sites or proposed sites where community interest is considerable--cover general topics about the Federal Superfund statute and process. Questions that will be addressed include: "How does a contaminated site get on the Superfund National Priorities List?," "What criteria does EPA use in evaluating cleanup options?," "How can citizens get involved?", and "Who is responsible for paying for the cleanup?"

EPA staff leading the workshops will be separate from those working on the intergovernmental effort to clean up Wisconsin's Lower Fox River. The information presented will be of a general nature, and applicable to any cleanup project where Superfund is involved.

The workshops will be offered:

- Monday, July 26, 6 to 10 p.m., Brown County Library, 515 Pine St., Green Bay.
- Tuesday, July 27, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Paper Valley Hotel, 333 West College Ave., Appleton (includes a lunch break).
- Wednesday, July 28, 8 a.m. to noon, Paper Valley Hotel.

Each of the workshops will present the same information, but the longer session on Tuesday, July 27, includes more interactive exercises.
Registration is on a first-come, first-serve basis. To register, call EPA's contractor: Deb Volkmer, Roy F. Weston Inc., 610-701-5178, fax, 610-701-7401, or e-mail, volkmerd@mail.rfweston.com.

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NEXT STEP IN FOX RIVER CLEANUP: EPA SUBMITS PRELIMINARY RECOMMENDATION TO NATIONAL REMEDY REVIEW BOARD

Technical Contact: Jim Hahnenberg (312) 353-4213
Media Contact: Bri Bill (312) 353-6646
Legal Contact: Roger Grimes (312) 886-6595

For Immediate Release: June 30, 1999
No. 99-OPA185

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 5, in cooperation with its five intergovernmental partners, today submitted a preliminary cleanup recommendation for Wisconsin's Lower Fox River to EPA's national Remedy Review Board.

This material will not be submitted for public review.

The EPA Remedy Review Board process is an internal peer review for all proposed cleanups of more than $30 million. The board, composed of senior Superfund managers and technical experts from EPA headquarters and regional offices, meets regularly to review major projects for technical feasibility, cost-effectiveness, and consistency with other Superfund sites nationally and EPA policy.

"Submittal of EPA's preliminary recommendation is an important procedural step that ensures that the final cleanup plan has absolute integrity and a technical foundation upon which to proceed to a final cleanup plan, to which we would hope all stakeholders could agree," said Regional Administrator Francis X. Lyons.

"The material submitted to the review board is not, by any means, a final EPA plan for the Fox River, nor does it mean the Fox will be designated as an official Superfund site. However, for the purposes of an internal review, the material submitted to the Remedy Review Board does include a plausible cleanup plan for consideration. The range of costs for this plan approximates the work previously developed by Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources."

The Remedy Review Board will meet in late July to discuss current proposals, including the preliminary Fox cleanup plan, and will provide EPA Region 5 and its partner agencies with advisory recommendations by early September. The comments will then be discussed with the partner agencies and considered for the proposed cleanup plan. The proposed cleanup plan will be presented to the public in early 2000, in conjunction with a 60-day comment period and several public meetings.

As required by the Remedy Review Board process, both the potentially responsible parties (Fox River Group) and the technical assistance grant group (Clean Water Action Council) have been notified that they may summarize in writing any concerns or issues that they believe important to the board's review of the issues.

The material submitted to the Remedy Review Board does not address financial issues associated with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Natural Resources Damage Assessment.

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EPA AWARDS $50,000 TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE GRANT TO FOX RIVER COMMUNITY GROUP

For Immediate Release: April 8, 1999
No. 99-OPA095

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 5 has recently awarded a $50,000 technical assistance grant to the Clean Water Action Council, a community organization in Green Bay, WI.

The grant will be used to hire a technical advisor for Wisconsin's Lower Fox River site. The advisor will interpret technical data for the organization and act as a liaison between the group and EPA and its intergovernmental partners.

Since 1989, EPA Region 5 has awarded 19 Superfund technical assistance grants to community organizations, including four in Wisconsin. A grant was also awarded this week to a group involved in the Velsicol site (St. Louis, MI).

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EPA MEETING ON FOX RIVER CLEANUP AT ONEIDA RESERVATION MAR. 29

Media Contact: Susan Pastor (312) 353-1325

For Immediate Release: March 17, 1999
No. 99-OPA068

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 5 will hold an informational meeting on the proposed Lower Fox River cleanup, Monday, Mar. 29, 7 p.m., Norbert Hill Center, Business Committee Conference Room, N 7210 Seminary Rd., Oneida, WI.

EPA is working with Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR), the Oneida and Menominee Tribes, and other Federal agencies to investigate PCB-contamination of a 39-mile stretch of the river, from Lake Winnebago to Green Bay. Fish consumption advisories for the Fox have been in place continuously since 1976.

At the meeting, representatives from EPA and other agencies will discuss cleanup efforts to date, health and ecological risks, roles of the agencies, and the range of cleanup alternatives recently announced by WDNR. The meeting will include a period for residents to share their questions and concerns about the cleanup.

Lower Fox River information and documents are available for review at libraries througout the area, including the Oneida Community Library, 201 Elm St. Lower Fox River information is also posted on EPA Region 5's website: http:// www.epa.gov/region5/foxriver, and WDNR's website: http://www.dnr.state.wi.us/org/water/wm/lowerfox

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EPA: COMMENTS ON LOWER FOX RIVER PROPOSED SUPERFUND LISTING NOW AT LOCAL LIBRARIES

Media Contacts: Susan Pastor (312) 353-1325
Bri Bill 353-6646

For Immediate Release: February 8, 1999
No. 99-OPA035

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 5 has recently distributed to local information repositories copies of public comments that EPA received on its proposed Superfund listing for Wisconsin's Lower Fox River.

The 60-day public comment period, which closed Sept. 28, 1998, generated a record number of responses for a proposed Superfund site: 7,005 comments in 2,865 separate documents. (Petition signatures were counted as individual comments.)

These comments will be considered in any PCB-cleanup decisions made by EPA, in consultation with Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, and the four partner tribes and agencies.

Bound copies of the comments are available at 5 information repositories: Appleton Public Library, 225 North Oneida St.; Brown County Library, 515 Pine St., Green Bay; Kaukauna Public Library, 111 Main Ave.; Oshkosh Public Library, 106 Washington Ave.; and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Reading Room, 1015 Challenger Ct., Green Bay. A summary of the comments is being developed and will soon be available at the public library information repositories in Appleton, Kimberly, Little Chute, Menasha, Neenah, Oshkosh, and Sturgeon Bay, as well as the Oneida Community Library.

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