GREEN BAY, Wis (WBAY) - Heavy equipment is back on the Fox River to continue the massive PCB cleanup project.
Dredging barge on the Fox River (WBAY file photo)
Dredging operations resumed this week, marking the 10th consecutive year for the largest river cleanup of its kind in U.S. history.
Efforts to remove river sediment, containing cancer-causing PCBs left behind from decades of pollution by the paper industry, first began in April 2009.
Since then, crews have dredged nearly 5 million cubic yards of sediment covering a 12-mile stretch of the lower Fox River.
There's just over a mile to go.
"There will be activity probably from around here, Porlier Street, near the processing facility all the way to the mouth, and you'll see that progress continue. They'll be wrapping up areas closer to here and then doing additional dredging out towards the mouth," says Scott Stein, Fox River Cleanup Project spokesman.
Initially it was estimated the nearly one billion dollar PCB cleanup project would wrap up in 2017.
But as operations moved towards downtown Green Bay and the mouth of the river, progress slowed due to a number of factors, including underground utilities and the amount of material that needs to be dredged and processed.
"We'll go this full year and there will be some work next year as well, so it will go into 2019," confirms Stein.
With operations on the river resuming, Stein says boaters need to be cautious.
"Make sure that people understand that there are lots of buoys and markers out there, and they need to pay attention to those to make sure everybody is safe," says Stein.