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Tannery Bay dredging to stop for winter; will resume spring 2007

Release Date: 11/03/2006
Contact Information: Phillippa Cannon, (312) 353-6218,

No. 06 - OPA205

CHICAGO (Nov. 3, 2006) - Dredging of contaminated sediment from Tannery Bay in the St. Marys River in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., will stop for the season this weekend. The project will resume in spring 2007, on or about May 1.

A temporary sand cover will be placed over contaminated sediment in the bay to prevent it from contaminating areas that have already been excavated. The sand for the cover will come from the bay. No sand will be placed in the bay from outside sources.

Dredging is being carried out under the Great Lakes Legacy Act by a partnership that includes U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Great Lakes National Program Office, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and Phelps Dodge Corp.

It is the fifth project funded by the Great Lakes Legacy Act, which President Bush signed in 2002 to address the problem of contaminated sediment in 31 toxic hot spots known as "areas of concern" around the Great Lakes.

The Legacy Act helps to streamline the cleanup process while emphasizing collaboration among governments and community groups.

The $8 million cleanup will remove 40,000 cubic yards of sediment contaminated with mercury and chromium from the bay and Tannery Point wetland.

Removing the sediment will improve environmental conditions in the St. Marys River, the connecting channel between lakes Superior and Huron. The primary source of the pollution was the former Cannelton Industries (formerly Northwestern Leather) tannery. The upland portion of the tannery site was cleaned up under EPA's Superfund program in 1999.

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