The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Ottawa River Group and the state of Ohio began construction of phase one of a $49-million clean-up of the Ottawa River and Sibley Creek in Toledo, Ohio, on Dec. 19.

Under EPA's Great Lakes Legacy Act, the project partners will remove approximately 260,000 cu yds of contaminated sediment from the river and creek.

The project's goal is reducing impact to human health and the environment on the Ottawa River. This is the Legacy Act's eighth clean-up of a contaminated site.

"The start of this cleanup brings us closer to the day when the public can safely eat all fish from the Great Lakes and their tributaries," said Bharat Mathur, EPA acting regional administrator.

Sediment (mud) in the river and creek is contaminated with a mixture of heavy metals, PCBs and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons called PAHs. The sediment contamination in the Ottawa River is a key contributor to current EPA advisories about the amount of fish from the river that can be eaten safely.

During phase one of the project, 15,000 cu yds of contaminated sediment will be removed from Sibley Creek, processed on site to remove excess water and transported to the city of Toledo's Hoffman Road Landfill for disposal.

Sibley Creek is a 1.1-mile-long tributary to the Ottawa River. It enters the river about four miles upstream of the river's mouth. The Sibley Creek work is expected to be completed by the end of January.

In April, 2010, dredging of the Ottawa River's main channel will begin. Some 245,000 cu yds of contaminated sediment will be removed by the time dredging is finished in late 2010.

EPA is providing $24.5 million for the project through the Great Lakes Legacy Act, a federal program targeted at cleaning up contaminated sediment in Great Lakes Areas of Concern.

The Ottawa River Group, a group of private businesses in partnership with the city of Toledo, will provide the remaining $24.5 million. The city is providing space in its municipal landfill as its share of the cost.

For more information about the project, visit: