Great Lakes Region

Manistique River. Credit: National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science.

In the late 1800s, the Manistique River in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula became a dumping ground for byproducts of sawmill operations and later paper recycling operations. Woody debris and chemical contamination continue to degrade lake and river habitat today. This environmentally degraded site—identified as an Area of Concern (AOC) by the Great Lakes Water Quality agreement— has been plagued by fish consumption advisories and restrictions on dredging due to elevated polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) levels in fish tissue and sediments.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) completed a Superfund cleanup project in 2000, successfully reducing the average PCB contamination. Although PCB levels declined, continued sampling shows that elevated PCB contamination is still cause for restrictions on fish and wildlife consumption and restrictions on dredging activities.

NOAA’s role in restoration

NOAA is contributing to the restoration of Manistique River habitat by removing polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) contamination in sediments and associated woody debris.  This represents the collaborative effort of multiple NOAA Line Offices, including its National Marine Fisheries Service, National Ocean Service, and Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research.

The outcome: Manistique’s designation as an Area of Concern (AOC) will be removed.  GLRI funds are supporting NOAA’s work to study, design, and implement the cleanup of PCB contaminated sediments and associated woody debris. Actions are anticipated to be complete by 2020.

 For additional information, please contact:

Julie Sims, Great Lakes Regional Coordinator
NOAA Restoration Center
Phone: (734) 741-2385

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