Kinnickinnic River Cleanup Removes PCBs, PAHs Ahead of Schedule

Over the past four months federal, state and local agencies have worked together to remove 167,000 cubic yards of contaminated sediment from the Kinnickinnic River between Becher Street and Kinnickinnic Avenue.

A former brownfields site next to the river has sprouted a boater’s lounge in a newly refurbished office building, a microbrewery, additional boat slips, moorings and fisherman wharves, riverwalks and a boat launch ramp.

The river was cleaned up using $14.3 million from the Great Lakes Legacy Act fund and $7.7 million from a state of Wisconsin bond fund under Gov. Doyle’s “Grow Milwaukee” initiative. The project began took place between June 3, 2009, and October 3, 2009. Dredging ended ahead of schedule.

The cleanup removed about 1,200 pounds of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and 13,000 pounds of polyaromatic hydrocarbons (a byproduct of petroleum) that were contaminating the river. The dredged material was transported by barge and disposed in a special cell within the Milwaukee Area Confined Disposal Facility at Jones Island, owned by the City of Milwaukee and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

“The City of Milwaukee is grateful for the many partnerships that have made this project a success,” Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said. “Milwaukee’s economy and quality of life are directly linked to the health of Lake Michigan and its tributaries.”

The Great Lakes Legacy Act was signed into law in November 2002 to cleanup contaminated sediment at areas of concern -- severely degraded sites where there is significant pollution -- around the Great Lakes.

“Ridding the Great Lakes of contaminated sediment to protect the health of our families and communities is a battle we need to fight site- by- site,” said Cameron Davis EPA senior adviser to the administrator.

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