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Georgia Pacific backs away from dumping decision

GREEN BAY -- Georgia-Pacific is backing off a proposal to dump contaminated river sediment in a landfill it owns in Green Bay.

The company says local opposition led to the decision. But cleanup of the Fox River remains on schedule and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources says the PCBs will have to go somewhere.

Georgia-Pacific is one of seven paper companies that must pay to remove PCBs from the river.

The company had proposed putting some of the contaminated river sediment into its landfill, but that led to complaints from neighboring homeowners and the Oneida tribe, whose reservation abuts the landfill.

Now, the proposal to use the site is off the table for at least a year, according to a Georgia-Pacific spokesperson. But the cleanup timetable stands, according to the DNR's project supervisor, Bruce Baker.

Next year, work begins on a so-called "hotspot," or highly contaminated area, near De Pere.

Baker says those dredgings will be shipped to a landfill near Detroit, Michigan. He says the big unanswered question now becomes how to dispose of contaminated sediment from the rest of the river.

He says the volumes of sediment involved are in the millions of cubic yards, so there will need to be some local cooperation to dispose of these large quantities.

Shipping all the river sediment to Michigan could tack an extra $18 million onto the cost of the cleanup. Baker says it would be cheaper to find a toxic-waste certified landfill somewhere in Wisconsin.

No matter where they end up, Baker says it's better to bury the PCBs than to leave them in the Fox River.