Wisconsin Attorney General Schimel: Wisconsin wins in Fox River cleanup case from mid-century pollution

MADISON, Wis. – This week, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin decided in favor of the State of Wisconsin, and compelled PH Glatfelter, one of the parties responsible for pollution of the Fox River, to bear a share of the cleanup cost as they are incurred. This action will ensure the success of the state’s efforts to remove or safely contain industrial chemicals, known as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), in the bed of the Fox River.

“At the Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ), we prioritize the important work of protecting the state’s natural resources,” said Attorney General Brad Schimel. “Many years of hard legal work by DOJ and the DNR led to the court’s decision this week, which will help us make sure that the Fox River can continue to be enjoyed for many generations to come.”

For almost 25 years, DOJ and Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR), in cooperation with federal agencies, have been working to enforce the cleanup responsibilities of papermakers and other entities that contaminated the Fox River with PCBs during the 1960’s and 1970’s while manufacturing carbonless paper. The state expects the main part of the cleanup work to be completed by 2019.

Maintenance of the remedial work and the monitoring of improvements in water and wildlife quality are the remaining components of the cleanup effort and this week’s decision ensures the money needed to maintain the continued effectiveness of the work already done is available.

The Fox River cleanup is one of the largest PCB remediation projects in the country. Through agreement with the state and federal government, the other responsible parties previously paid $1.3 billion in cleanup costs. That effort, as substantiated by testing of water and fish tissue samples, has already made limited consumption of Fox River fish possible.

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