Town of Neenah in PCB Battle

Posted Nov. 02, 2003

Board passes resolution against landfill proposal

By Duke Behnke
Post-Crescent staff writer

TOWN OF NEENAH — The town has joined Vinland in the fight against a state plan to landfill PCB-contaminated sediments dredged from Little Lake Butte des Morts.

The town is promoting the vitrification of the sediment in a furnace designed to destroy the PCBs while producing a glass aggregate.

“Why transport the problem from one place to another when you can eliminate it for the same money?” said Town Chairman Steven J. Spanbauer.

The Town Board passed a resolution Monday urging state and federal lawmakers “to convince the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to reconsider their landfill plans.”

The DNR and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have decided to landfill 784,000 cubic yards of sediment targeted for removal from the lake.

Two paper companies, Glatfelter and WTM I (formerly Wisconsin Tissue Mills), have agreed to pay $25 million each toward the $60 million cleanup. A third company, Georgia-Pacific, has offered the use of its landfill in Vinland.

Town Supv. Jan DeKeyser said she found it inconceivable the DNR would discount vitrification for the lake sediment.

“It’s a permanent solution to the problem, and landfilling is not,” she said.

The Town of Oshkosh and Winnebago County have passed similar resolutions. The towns of Clayton, Algoma, Nekimi and Black Wolf also are considering action.

“Certainly we welcome their support,” Vinland Chairman Ray Batley said. “I think it will be beneficial.”

Batley said the Town of Oshkosh could be affected if the G-P landfill fails because it lies downstream of groundwater flows.

PCBs, or polychlorinated biphenyls, are manmade chemicals that have been linked to health problems in people and wildlife. They were released into the lake and Fox River by seven area paper mills during the manufacture or recycling of carbonless copy paper from the late 1950s to the early 1970s.

Duke Behnke can be reached at 920-729-6622, ext. 32, or by e-mail at