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Dingell Requests Update from EPA on Arkema Site Cleanup

Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (MI-06) today sent a letter to EPA Region 5 Administrator Debra Shore requesting an update on the status of cleanup efforts at the Arkema Inc. property in Wyandotte and Riverview. Dingell called on the EPA three years ago to finalize a cleanup plan, and brought Administrator Shore to visit the site last year, but the agency still has not released a final plan for remediation at the property.

“This site has long been a project I have been tracking closely, as you know, and for the Downriver communities in Southeast Michigan the prolonged clean-up effort at this site, and others, is raising growing concerns of about the future of the site, as well as its safety to the public and environment,” Dingell writes. “To be very blunt, it is unacceptable that it has been over three decades, and this site still has not been fully cleaned up.”

The efforts under your leadership at the Arkema property have been appreciated but we need to see more action. I thank you for the response I received in February 2022 to my letter. I also commend the hard-working men and women at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Great Lakes National Program Office (GLNPO) for their long-standing

commitment to this project and the surrounding projects. The dredging project in the Upper Trenton Channel (UTC) to remove contaminates in the Detroit River is long overdue, and we need to see an elevated urgency from all parties involved, especially EPA, in these projects to get them completed expeditiously and effectively,” Dingell continues. “Public pressure is beginning to mount on local officials who are calling for measurable progress and stand ready to assist EPA in its remediation efforts. But many in the communities feel this is not a high priority for EPA and have been frustrated with a lack of communication and coordination as the timeline continues to stretch. These communities have been asking EPA for a clear status update and have not received a satisfactory response.”

“We have a historic opportunity to change the face of the Detroit Riverfront, but this will require stepping up our collective work and effectively coordinating together,” Dingell concludes. “I look forward to receiving a full status update on the Arkema site and strongly urge the EPA to elevate the remediation of this property, as well as the surrounding sites impacting its progress, as a top priority. Additionally, it will be important for EPA to proactively engage the Downriver communities and keep them apprised of all progress, timelines, and expectations, if this will be successful.”

Specifically, Dingell requested answers to the following questions: 

  1. Has EPA finalized and published a Statement of Basis for the final clean-up decision at the Arkema East Plant Site? If not, when can we expect to see it released?
  2. What steps has EPA Region 5 taken to improve the coordination of the multiple interconnect projects ongoing in the Downriver communities and how will this expedite the clean-up process long-term at Arkema and other sites?
  3. In EPA’s February 2022 response, you said EPA “will give every consideration to the possibility of assigning an EPA staff member to coordinate with local stakeholders.” Has EPA assigned any staff for coordination efforts?
  4. Does EPA Region 5 need any additional resources or authorities to complete the Arkema project or other projects in a timely manner?
  5. Have the Great Lakes Legacy Act (GLLA) UTC dredging project participants completed the analysis and design of the water treatment system mentioned in your February 2022 letter?
  6. Does EPA still anticipate, as stated in your February 2022 letter, the dredging work in the Trenton Channel beginning in 2024? If so, do you have a more precise start date and how long do you expect this dredging project to last?
  7. Can you confirm that the public is still not exposed to any contamination from the Arkema property?
  8. Finally, when does EPA expect the Arkema property to be fully ready for redevelopment of the site to begin?

View the full text of the letter here.

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