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Milwaukee's Moss-American Superfund Cleanup nears completion 20-year effort involved dredging, reroute of Little Menomonee River

Release Date: 10/23/2009
Contact Information: Mick Hans, 312-353-5050, Susan Pastor, 312-353-1325,

MEDIA BRIEFING TODAY: EPA and WDNR staff will hold an informal media briefing at 1p.m, Friday, Oct. 23 at the site construction trailer, followed by a short walk to the river edge cleanup area. The trailer is at the intersection of Silver Spring Road and 107th Street, near a Marathon gas station. Please dress for rain and a muddy walking trail.

No. 09-OPA207

(CHICAGO - Oct. 23, 2009) U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 5 and Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources said today that cleanup of the Moss-American Superfund site in Milwaukee County, Wis., is nearly complete. The effort included significant dredging and the reroute of a portion of the Little Menomonee River.

The 88-acre Moss-American facility was located at the intersection of Brown Deer and Granville Roads. From 1921 to 1976, it was a wood preserver that treated railroad ties with a creosote and fuel-oil mixture. The company's waste disposal and operations caused contamination of site soil, ground water and sediment in the river. About 65 acres of the former property is now Milwaukee County park land that the river runs through. Union Pacific Railroad owns the other 23 acres.

Moss-American was among the earliest Superfund National Priorities List sites. Congress established the Superfund program in 1980 to address abandoned hazardous waste sites. Moss-American was added to the list in 1984. Following a series of investigations, EPA approved a comprehensive cleanup plan in 1990. The plan addressed the former plant property and six miles of river, managed as five separate segments.

An estimated $35 million has been spent on the Moss-American cleanup since the mid-1980s. Most of the work prior to 2009 was overseen by EPA and WDNR and funded by Tronox (formerly Kerr-McGee), which bought the Moss-American facility in 1963 and
declared bankruptcy in 2009. EPA's Superfund program paid for all of the 2009 work, totaling over $2 million.

Cleanup activities overseen by EPA and WDNR include:

* From 1995 to 1999, about 1,100 gallons of spilled creosote were cleaned up. The oily material had settled near the subsurface depth where soil and ground water meet. This "free product" was removed via extraction wells and taken off site for proper disposal.

* From 1999 to 2000, contaminated ground water was cleaned up. A method called "funnel and gate" treatment prevented the polluted ground water from entering the river. Metal sheet pile walls were employed to form a barrier and direct ground water to the open parts of the "gates." Air and nutrients were added to help break down the contaminants.

* From 2001 to 2002, the former plant property was cleaned up. (The factory buildings were demolished in 1978, prior to EPA involvement.) This work included low-energy heat treatment and disposal of 137,200 tons of contaminated soil.

* From 2002 to 2005, the Little Menomonee River was rerouted between Brown Deer and Mill Roads. A new channel was dug close to the river's original path. This work included excavation and disposal of 26,000 tons of contaminated sediment on the Moss-American property, as well as replacing plants and trees, restoring wetlands and stabilizing the river bank.

* From 2006 to 2008, about 4,300 feet of river bank was sampled, from Mill Road to the confluence of the Menomonee River at Hampton Road-known as Segments 4 and 5--to determine which areas of the river would be dredged rather than rerouted.

* During 2009, 3,000 tons of contaminated sediment has been dredged and sent for proper disposal from Segments 4 and 5. EPA took over the final stages of the cleanup this year after the Tronox bankruptcy. The final phase of the river work near the Appleton Avenue bridge will wrap up over the next few weeks.

Creosote is derived from coal tar. Napthalene, a polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon or "PAH", is the most common ingredient in coal tar. PAHs can cause cancer and skin rashes, and may affect the eyes, kidneys and liver.

See more information at Site documents are also available for review at the Mill Road Public Library, 6431 N. 76th St., Milwaukee. Residents with questions may contact EPA community involvement coordinator Susan Pastor at 800-621-8431, Ext. 31325, or

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