200 toxic waste containers being removed from Michigan site

OTSEGO, Mich. (AP) - About 200 drums and bins of toxic waste found at the site of a former paper mill in southwestern Michigan will be removed by a former owner of the facility, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Rock-Tenn Co. agreed to remove containers although it was not the last owner of the Otsego site and it's not clear when the containers were left, the Kalamazoo Gazette reported Tuesday .

" Rock-Tenn ... is being a good corporate citizen and has volunteered to remove the drums regardless of who left them," said Brian Kelly, on-scene coordinator for the EPA.

Work was expected to begin Tuesday, Kelly said, and the materials will be shipped out over the next month or two.

"EPA and Rock-Tenn have discussed the need for urgency," Kelly said.

The Associated Press left a message with Norcross, Ga.-based Rock-Tenn.

The EPA was called in November after Allegan County officials discovered chemicals during a visit to determine whether the 32-acre site, located about 35 miles south of Grand Rapids, could be redeveloped. Before it closed in 2004, the paper mill had been one of Otsego's largest taxpayers and employers.

Terra Contracting of Kalamazoo has been hired by Rock-Tenn to check all buildings at the site for drums, sample and consolidate the drum wastes and ship them for disposal, Kelly said. The site will be guarded during the work.

Meanwhile, the EPA said it found no contamination by polychlorinated biphenyls, PCBs, in an area identified by Michigan Department of Environmental Quality where electrical transformers were drained. Such transformers sometimes contained PCBs in the oil cooling fluid, Kelly said, and PCBs are believed to cause cancer. The federal government banned PCBs in the 1970s.

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Information from: Kalamazoo Gazette, http:// www.mlive.com/ kalamazoo

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