Kalamazoo River Webline


Administrative Settlement Agreement and Order on Consent. At the Kalamazoo River Superfund Site, two AOCs were finalized in February 2007 that will guide the majority of future work at the Site. The SRI/FS AOC describes a series of supplemental remedial investigations and feasibility studies that will be carried out over the next several years. The work will proceed in phases across seven distinct Areas of the Site and four former paper mill properties. The TCRA AOC describes the requirements for a Time-Critical Removal Action (TCRA) in the former Plainwell Impoundment.
Bank Stabilization
Placement of vegetation or rocks on a river bank to prevent erosion.
When chemicals build up in organisms that are higher up in the food chain. For example, organisms at the top of the food chain (e.g., eagles, mink, large fish) build up chemicals in their body tissues from eating organisms at the bottom of the food chain (e.g., algae, small fish) that have lower concentrations of chemicals in their body tissues.
Compounds that are bioavailable at a site like Kalamazoo River are those that are located in the river water or the top layer of sediment, where they are readily available to fish, plants, and other wildlife.
Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (see Superfund)
Drainage Layer
Layer of a landfill cap that water can pass through. Proper drainage through layers of a landfill cap is necessary to maintain the long-term protective nature of the cap.
Earthen Berm
A mound or wall of earth, often used to separate land from water.
The gradual wearing away of soil by wind or water.
Feasibility Study (FS)
Evaluation of available options/methods to clean up a site (see the Background FAQ for more on the feasibility study for the Kalamazoo River).
Fish Consumption Advisories
Recommendation generally issued by a state Department of Health to not eat fish or only eat fish at certain frequencies (e.g., 1 meal per month).
Groundwater Recovery System
System that pumps groundwater at a site to a treatment system. See the FAQ on Operable Units to learn how ground water recovery systems are used along the Kalamazoo River.
Interim Response Action
Proactive actions taken at a site to control, reduce, prevent, or eliminate the potential for contaminant releases before legal requirements (e.g., ROD) are finalized.
Kalamazoo River Study Group (KRSG)
Historically, the KRSG was the group of potentially responsible parties identified for the Kalamazoo River Superfund Site. From the time work started at the Superfund Site in the early 1990s until January 2009, the KRSG companies were jointly responsible for investigation and cleanup activities along the river and at the various Operable Units. Membership in the KRSG changed over the years, and at various times included Plainwell, Inc., Fort James Corporation, and Millennium Holdings, LLC in addition to Georgia-Pacific LLC. With the bankruptcy of Millennium Holdings, LLC in January 2009, the KRSG is no longer in existence.
A mathematical computer model, which was used to predict and evaluate how effective different methods would be at lowering PCB concentrations over time.
Landfill Cap
A cover on a landfill, often made of layers of sand, soils and plastic liners, that separates the landfill contents from nearby water and/or soil and reduces potential risks to human and the environment.
Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH)
Michigan’s state agency that issues fish consumption advisories for the Kalamazoo River.
Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ)
Michigan’s state environmental protection agency. Visit MDEQ′s Kalamazoo River Superfund Site information page.
National Priorities List (NPL)
USEPA’s list of the most serious uncontrolled or abandoned hazardous waste sites. Long-term actions at these sites are eligible for funding from the Superfund trust fund.
Natural Attenuation/Natural Recovery
Occurs when chemicals are isolated or broken down over time into less harmful substances by natural physical, chemical, or biological processes.
Operable Unit
Specified portion or area within a Superfund site where investigations and remedial activities proceed on a schedule separate from the activities for the main site (see the FAQ on Operable Units for more information).
Organic Material
Previously living material (e.g., leaves, branches, or animals) that have decomposed.
Plastic Liner
A layer in a landfill cap made of plastic, generally polyvinyl chloride, that acts as a barrier between materials left in place and clean materials (such as soil or sand) placed on top.
Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs)
A group of 209 chemicals that were used primarily as industrial coolants, insulators, and lubricants. They were also used for a period of time in carbonless copy paper recycled by paper mills in the Kalamazoo River area. See Background FAQ for more about how PCBs were released into the Kalamazoo River.
Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)
A plastic material often used to create an impermeable layer in landfill caps.
Potentially Responsible Party
An individual, company or governmental entity (e.g., MDNR) identified by the regulatory agency as potentially responsible for or contributing to contamination at a Superfund site.
Record of Decision (ROD)
A document issued by a state or federal regulatory agency that formally explains what methods will be used to clean up a site.
Regulatory Agency
A state or federal agency overseeing a project. The lead agency has responsibility for making final clean up decisions at a site.
Remedial Investigation
Investigation conducted to characterize the presence and extent of contamination at a site (see the Background FAQ for more on the remedial investigation for the Kalamazoo River).
An action at a site designed to address contamination and reduce risk to humans and wildlife.
Left-over or remaining materials. At the Kalamazoo River Site, the residuals are materials left over from the paper recycling processes carried out at the paper mills along the river. In many cases, these paper residuals contain PCBs.
Bottom soils of a water body (e.g, lake, river, or stream).
Sheetpile Wall
A long slender piece of material, usually of timber, steel, or reinforced concrete, driven into the ground to retain earth or prevent seepage. At the Kalamazoo River, sheetpile walls were installed at the King Highway Landfill and Allied Operable Units to prevent soil erosion in the river and to stabilize the berm between the landfill and the river.
Supplemental Remedial Investigation / Feasibility Study (SRI / FS)
The new investigations and analysis planned for the Kalamazoo River Superfund Site starting in 2007. This work is described in the February 2007 SRI/FS AOC (see text under AOC, above).
Below ground surface.
Formally known as the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), a program that outlines processes for cleaning up hazardous waste sites. See the Background FAQ for more information.
Surface Sediment Mixing Zone
The area where sediments and surface water in a lake or river mix together. This is the zone where most fish and other organisms come in contact with contaminated sediments.
Time-Critical Removal Action. A TCRA is a short-term effort that is undertaken when USEPA determines that releases or threatened releases of chemicals require a prompt response. At the Kalamazoo River Superfund Site, two TCRAs have been completed – one in the former Plainwell Impoundment (2007-2009) and one in the Plainwell No. 2 Dam Area (2009-2010).
Treatability Study
A study conducted in a laboratory or at a designated area at a Superfund Site to gather additional information on a particular technology or cleanup approach. The information collected during the study is usually used to fully develop and evaluate a full-scale remedy that could be implemented in other areas of the site. In addition, the results of the study often help to clarify costs of carrying out a full-scale project and address outstanding questions about the technology or approach.
A stream/river feeding into a larger stream/river or lake.
United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA)
The agency that has the lead role at the Kalamazoo River Superfund Site. See the Background FAQ for more information about role of USEPA.
Water Column
The water in a lake or river, extending from the water surface down to the sediments.