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Cleanup Brings Muskegon Lake Area of Concern Closer to Restoration, Delivers Results Under Great Lakes Initiative

Release Date: 05/14/2012
Contact Information: Peter Cassell, 312-886-6234,

CHICAGO (May 14, 2012) - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and the City and County of Muskegon today announced the completion of a contaminated sediment removal project at the Division Street Outfall to Muskegon Lake. This project brings Muskegon Lake closer to being removed from a binational list of Areas of Concern in the Great Lakes.

"The work by federal, state, county, city and other partners over the years has helped deliver real results under the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative," said Cameron Davis, Senior Advisor to the EPA Administrator. “This work will help boost human, ecological and local economic health. But we can’t stop here. We’re looking for new partners to match funds to accelerate cleanups in other Areas of Concern in Michigan and around the Great Lakes."

The $12 million project under the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative’s Legacy Act removed about 43,000 cubic yards of sediment contaminated with mercury and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, or PAHs. The contamination contributed to limits on eating fish caught in the lake, as well as loss of habitat and other environmental problems.

“The State of Michigan is excited to work with the EPA Great Lakes Legacy Act in cleaning up our Areas of Concern. We appreciate the time and effort of the local partners in restoring the values of the Muskegon Lake area to the local community," said Patty Birkholz, Director of the Office of the Great Lakes.

The Muskegon Lake Area of Concern includes the entire lake, which is separated from Lake Michigan by sand dunes and a navigation channel. The Muskegon River flows through the lake before emptying into Lake Michigan. Additional tributaries include Mosquito Creek, Ryerson Creek, Ruddiman Creek, Green Creek, and Four Mile Creek. In the 1980s, the U.S. and Canada identified 43 highly degraded shoreline areas along the Great Lakes. Today there are 30 AOCs wholly in the U.S. or shared with Canada.

The Great Lakes provide more than 30 million Americans with drinking water and underpin a multi-billion dollar economy. In February 2009, President Obama proposed the GLRI, the largest investment in the Great Lakes in two decades.

The GLRI Action Plan, which covers FY 2010 through 2014, was developed by a task force of 16 federal departments and agencies to implement the president’s historic initiative. It calls for aggressive efforts to address five urgent priority focus areas:

    Cleaning up toxics and toxic hot spot areas of concern

    Combating invasive species.

    Promoting near-shore health by protecting watersheds from polluted runoff.

    Restoring wetlands and other habitats.

    Raising public awareness, tracking progress and working with partners.

The plan also ensures accountability by establishing measures of progress and benchmarks for success.

For more on the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, see

For more on this project and the GLRI Legacy Act, visit