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Citizen task force calls for emergency action at Pine River superfund site

Pine River Superfund Citizen Task Force

A citizen task force is calling on the federal government to take emergency action to stop the recontamination of the Pine River in Gratiot county.

The EPA has been involved in cleaning up the area since the 1990s, first completing clean up of the Pine River in 2006 and currently working to clean up contamination across 52-acres impacted by the former Velsicol chemical company.

Jane Keon is with the Pine River Superfund Citizen Task Force. She said the group has long raised concerns about chemicals at the site recontaminating the Pine River. At a meeting with their group last week Keon said the EPA told her recontamination was “likely” taking place.

“So that’s why we are sending the letter. We want to know how much of the contaminant is leaking back into the river water and the groundwater.”

Keon said even if EPA action is temporary it’s important to protect the work that has already been done to clean up contamination in the region.

“We decided it was time to request an emergency removal. We want to go on the record as asking for that. We’ll keep requesting until something gets done.”

According to Keon, roughly $100-million was spent to clean up the contaminated river bed of the Pine.

An EPA spokesperson said they have received the Task Force’s letter and are preparing a response.

The spokesperson added that the “EPA does not think a large quantity of contaminated groundwater is being released into the Pine River based on data collected to date. The concentration of contaminants measured in fish tissue samples collected in the Pine River near the site are not increasing. Nevertheless, EPA continues to study the groundwater at the Velsicol Chemical site, and a groundwater collection and treatment system will be constructed on-site as part of a future remedial action.”