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Settlement for Natural Resource Damages at the Sheboygan River and Harbor Superfund Site
Scene of river with foliage.
Nearly $90 million dollars of private and public funds were spent to clean up contamination in the Sheboygan River and its floodplains. The recently announced settlement of approximately $4.5 million will support habitat preservation and restoration and improve public access for the river's recreational uses. Image credit: NOAA

DECEMBER 15, 2017 — The U.S. Department of Justice issued a press release on December 12 announcing three settlements, with three separate companies, in excess of $4.5 million for natural resource damages at the Sheboygan River and Harbor Superfund site.

These settlements will resolve claims brought by NOAA and its co-trustees regarding liability for historic industrial discharges of chemicals that caused injury to public natural resources. The settlements will include proposed projects that protect 324 acres of unique habitat and improve public recreational access. The co-trustees will jointly manage the funds to implement restoration projects described in the restoration plan.

According to the settlement, Tecumseh Products Co., Thomas Industries, Inc., and Wisconsin Public Service Corp., are liable for historic industrial discharges of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and/or polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) into the Sheboygan River. PCBs and PAHs were identified in river sediments at different locations throughout the Site in sufficient concentrations to cause injury to many types of natural resources, including invertebrates, fish, amphibians, birds, and mammals. In addition, PCB-contamination has resulted in the loss of recreational fishing services.

The Sheboygan River site encompasses the lower 14 river miles of the Sheboygan River, from Sheboygan Falls downstream to and including the Sheboygan Harbor on Lake Michigan, as well as adjoining floodplain areas.

The settlement consent decrees are available on the Department of Justice web site, and the public is encouraged to comment.  

The public may also comment on the Restoration Plan and Environmental Assessment and proposed restoration projects.

For additional information: contact Paula.Bizot@noaa.gov.

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