Portage Creek Area

Kalamazoo, MI - Region V

Site Contact:

Craig Thomas / Paul Ruesch / Andrew Maguire


Stockbridge Ave to Kalamazoo River
Kalamazoo, MI 49001

Latitude: 42.2839750
Longitude: -85.5791570

The Allied Paper Inc./Portage Creek/Kalamazoo River Superfund Site is located in Allegan and Kalamazoo County, Michigan. The Site was pervasively contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB), primarily as the result of historic waste practices associated with several paper mills. The Site was listed on the National Priorities List (NPL) on August 30, 1990, and includes four disposal areas, five former paper mill properties, an approximately 80-mile stretch of the Kalamazoo River from Morrow Dam to Lake Michigan, and a three-mile stretch of Portage Creek.

This removal action involved what the U.S. EPA Region 5 has designated as the “Portage Creek Area” of the Site. The Portage Creek Area is located in the City of Kalamazoo, Michigan, beginning at East Cork Street and flowing north approximately three miles to the confluence of the Kalamazoo River. Activities associated with this removal action occurred in segments along a 1.8 mile stretch of Portage Creek. Work activities moved downstream primarily between East Stockbridge Avenue bridge to East Walnut Street bridge, South Pitcher Street bridge to the railroad crossing west of Rochester Street, and the bend in Portage Creek East of Rochester Street to the confluence with the Kalamazoo River.

This response action mitigated threats to public health, welfare, and the environment presented by the presence of an uncontrolled release of PCB, a hazardous substance, from in-stream sediments, riverbank soils, and floodplain soils located within the Portage Creek Area. This removal action was time-critical in order to address the potential for continuing release of contamination into the food chain and the potential for direct human exposure to the contamination. The response actions included dredging and/or excavation of sediment, riverbank soils and floodplain soils, containment, monitoring, water treatment, stabilization and off-Site disposal of excavated material in accordance with federal PCB regulations at 40 C.F.R. § 761.61.

The response action required 3 construction seasons to complete and resulted in the removal of approximately 23,700 cubic yards of waste material, containing approximately 2,123 pounds of PCB from the creek. The creek has an average width of approximately 32 feet, an average depth of approximately 2.3 feet and covers a surface area of approximately 8.2 acres. The banks in the Portage Creek Area range in height from approximately 18 inches to 10 feet.

Twenty nine sample locations from the Portage Creek Area (between E. Alcott Street and the confluence with the Kalamazoo River) have PCB concentrations greater than 50 milligrams per kilogram (mg/kg) ranging in depth from surface sediment to 44 inches deep. The highest sample results from Portage Creek showed a concentration of 590 mg/kg and came from a location between E. Walnut Street and E. Dutton Street. Nearly half of the samples with concentrations greater than 50 mg/kg were located in Portage Creek adjacent to the UpJohn Park recreational area. The highest concentration of PCB in Portage Creek adjacent to the UpJohn Park area was 300 mg/kg.

Additional project information, inlcuding all planning documents (e.g. workplans, sampling plans, maps, etc.) are posted to the 'documents' section of this website. Project updates from throughout the project are posted in the 'POL/Sitreps' section.

For additional information, visit the Pollution/Situation Report (Pol/Sitreps) and the Notices sections.