KALAMAZOO, Mich. – The Allied Paper Site which sits between East Alcott Street and East Cork Street and South Burdick Street and Portage Street is currently fenced off with warning signs informing people of contamination.
The fence makes a forbidden zone, filled with known poison, in the middle of one of the biggest neighborhoods in Kalamazoo.
The Kalamazoo River Clean-Up Coalition, with a goal of having the EPA remove the PCB toxins, said others in positions of power are starting to listen to its cause.
Maarten Vonhof attends meetings held by the KRCC regularly.
Vonhof lives on a hill overlooking the Allied Paper Site with his wife and son, he has reason to want the PCB toxins out of the area.
“Knowing that it is there and knowing that it is not being dealt with in a timely fashion eats at me every single day,” said Vonhof.
Bruce Merchant, a retired Kalamazoo Public Service Director said the entire county of Kalamazoo should care what happens at the site.
“It sits right over the aquifer where we draw drinking water for 120,000 people in Kalamazoo County,” said Merchant.
The paper mill used PCBs in the manufacturing process, those chemicals are known to cause birth defects and other health problems according to the Center for Disease Control.
Merchant took his concerns to Washington D.C. and got the attention of Congressman Fred Upton and Senators Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow.
Something that gave the crowd of 50 people tonight optimism that the EPA might dig up the contaminated ground and move it out instead of just placing a cap on it as they originally intended.
The problem according to the Kalamazoo River Clean-up Coalition is money, specifically an additional 70 million dollars at minimum.
“They might have their selected remedy this fall, that is a guess. Maybe next year, but we want the right solution not a quick one,” said Merchant.
Even if the dump trucks came in right now, the coalition estimates that it could take six to eight years to clean up the entire site.