GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) – The multi-year, $750 million cleanup of the Fox River will take longer than expected.
The eighth year of PCB dredging on the river will conclude next month.
The project was expected to be completed in 2017 but will now continue into 2018.
It started in April, 2009, the largest river cleanup of its kind in U.S. history, designed to reduce the risk to human health and the environment due to the presence of PCBs in Fox River sediment.
Since then, crews have dredged more than 4 million cubic yards of sediment, covering a 13-mile stretch of the Lower Fox River.
“It’s a lot of material that’s been dredged and processed and then taken to the landfill,” project spokesman Scott Stein said.
But now with just a mile or so to go, as the equipment moves downstream to the Bay of Green Bay, the pace of dredging has slowed.
“A lot of it is the material that is found. Some areas there’s more clay, some areas more sand, and that all impacts the pace of dredging that can take place.”
Dredging downtown Green Bay also forces crews to work around terminal operators and ship traffic.
“Based on where we are right now, we’re looking at moving in 2018. As we move further downstream more dredging is taking place than originally anticipated and less capping, and that’s affected the timeline,” Stein said.
Paper companies found responsible for discharging cancer-causing chemicals into the river in the 1950’s and 60’s are paying for the cleanup, which will extend just into the bay.
“There are expectations that need to be accomplished as far as the removal of PCB’s, and getting those levels down to the one part per million, and what needs to be done needs to be done.”
After dredging for the year wraps up in mid-November, operations will resume in March.