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Tannery Bay/St Marys River receives US$8 million for cleanup

Environmental Issues // July 14, 2006

Aerial view showing the Tannery Bay location.

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says the Great Lakes Legacy Act will help fund an US$8 million clean-up of Tannery Bay on St Marys River near Sault Ste Marie, Michigan.

The EPA, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and Phelps Dodge Corp will dredge 40,000 cubic yards of sediment contaminated with mercury and chromium from the bay and Tannery Point wetland.

Work will begin this month and is expected to be completed in late autumn.

"The rivers that feed into the Great Lakes serve as the arteries of this international treasure. And thanks to President Bush's Great Lakes Legacy Act, every drop of water that flows from Tannery Bay and through St Marys River will be a healthier lifeblood to Lake Huron," said EPA Administrator Stephen L Johnson. Working with our partners, EPA is committed to improving this community asset - enhancing its environmental, recreational and economic values."

The Great Lakes Legacy Act will fund US$4.8 million of the cost of the project and Phelps Dodge, which owns a former tannery property next to the bay, will contribute US$2.6 million.

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, through the state's Clean Michigan Initiative, will provide US$600,000.

It is the fifth project funded by the Great Lakes Legacy Act, which President Bush signed in 2002 to address the problem of contaminated sediment in 31 toxic hot spots known as "areas of concern" around the Great Lakes.

The Legacy Act strives to streamline the cleanup process while emphasizing collaboration among governments and community groups.

Removing the sediment will improve environmental conditions in St Marys River, the connecting channel between lakes Superior and Huron.

The primary source of the pollution was the former Cannelton Industries tannery. The tannery site was cleaned up under EPA's Superfund program in 1999.

Contaminated sediment is a problem in rivers and harbours throughout the Great Lakes. It is a reason why many fish in the lakes are not safe to eat in unlimited quantities, harms aquatic life, degrades habitat and affects the quality of sources of drinking water.

An information meeting about the dredging project has been scheduled for Monday, July 31st from 7 to 9pm, at Lake Superior State University's Cisler Student and Conference Center, 650 W Easterday Ave, Sault Ste Marie, Mich.

EPA, company and state officials will explain the work and how it will affect local residents.

For more information about this clean-up go to: http://www.epa.gov/glla/tannery

 

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