Expensive clean-up from pollution leak

Expensive clean-up from pollution leak
Published: 19 January 2005

It may cost more than $45 million to clean up highly alkaline contamination seeping into Little Traverse Bay, Detroit from underground cement kiln dust piles on the property of Bay Harbor, says CMS Energy, a former partner in the luxury resort.

The cleanup also could impose continuing annual expenses of up to $1.6m, CMS said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Publicly held companies often report unexpected events that could affect revenues.

CMS Energy was a partner when Bay Harbor was established at the site of a former cement plant, but sold its interest in 2002. The utility remained responsible for potential environmental issues at the resort site.

The local health department closed two sections of Bay Harbor shoreline last year and issued a public health alert over pollution "similar to very strong bleach" in Little Traverse Bay. The US Environmental Protection Agency and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality are negotiating with resort owners over dealing with the contamination.

The costs result from poor planning and inappropriate action years ago when Bay Harbor was allowed to develop at the former cement plant, said a spokeman for a local environmental group. Cement kiln dust piles beneath the resort could have been capped with clay, likely stopping the seepage problems "at a fraction of the price that it’s going to cost now," he concluded.