Tuesday, October 14, 2014

GLWA, Clinton River Watershed, EPA Superfund, Ten-Mile Drain

Much of the northern portion of the new Great Lakes Water Authority (GLWA) is within Oakland and Macomb counties and the Clinton River watershed.  The entire watershed, 760 square miles, is designated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as an Area of Concern (AOC).

“The U.S.-Canada Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement (Annex 2 of the 1987 Protocol) defines AOCs as ‘geographic areas that fail to meet the general or specific objectives of the agreement where such failure has caused or is likely to cause impairment of beneficial use of the area's ability to support aquatic life.’ More simply put, an AOC is a location that has experienced environmental degradation.”

The most serious degradation is the result of toxic waste at sites in the watershed that EPA has included on its Superfund National Priorities List.  “Superfund is the name given to the environmental program established to address abandoned hazardous waste sites. It is also the name of the fund established by the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act of 1980, as amended (CERCLA statute, CERCLA overview)."

“The National Priorities List is a published list of hazardous waste sites in the country that are eligible for extensive, long-term clean-up actions under the Superfund program.”

One of the Superfund sites in the Clinton River watershed is the Ten-Mile Drain.

The Ten-Mile Drain Site is located near the intersection of Bon Brae Street and Harper Avenue in St. Clair Shores, Macomb County, Michigan. It includes a portion of the Ten Mile drain storm sewer system, which consists of the concrete sewer pipes and soil surrounding the pipes in [a] utility corridor approximately 15 feet underground. The site encompasses a several block area where polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) have been documented to be present in significant quantities in the underground utility. The PCBs are migrating into the storm sewer which empties into two canals, known as the Lange and Revere Street canals, connected to Lake St Clair.”

“Following the discovery of PCBs at the site, EPA conducted removal actions to address the contamination that had been identified. EPA dredged the canals and cleaned out the underground storm sewer drain system, but the contamination returned. As a result, in September 2010, EPA's work at the Ten-Mile Drain site shifted from the removal portion of EPA's Superfund program to the remedial portion, which focuses on long-term cleanup projects.”

The work is ongoing.

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