Cleaning up Tannery Bay

7 December 2001

Genesco Inc, owners of the former Whitehall Leather Co, and the state Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) are planning to redevelop the 30-acre Tannery Bay in Muskegon, Michegan, perhaps within two years. Both the state and Genesco, after years of discussions, agreed in August to a full clean-up of the bay, which the company contaminated with heavy metals and arsenic during decades of leather processing. The clean-up is scheduled to begin next spring, although it may take longer to remove pollutants such as lead, zinc and arsenic from the bay. DEQ spokesman Ken Silfven said that the entire site would be included in the clean-up operation, and once the soil is free of pollution, developers could begin building. The state and Genesco will share the US$6 million cost of removing the sediment. The agreement followed a lawsuit by the city of Whitehall that asked the courts to force the company to pay for a full clean-up of the lake bottom and soils around the plant. The contaminated sediment on the lake bottom will be dredged up onto the factory site and dried before being removed to an appropriate landfill. After the lake work is completed, work can begin on the land. In addition, the building must be inspected for lead, asbestos or other dangerous materials. The results of the inspection will affect the demolition and disposal of the bricks and other materials. The tannery was closed last year after it was rezoned from an industrial to recreational and residential area. Genesco will maintain groundwater treatment systems at the site for years to come. Source: The Associated Press State & Local Wire

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