By JAMES DAU
Capital News Service
LANSING – Muskegon and White lakes have reached important cleanup milestones and should be removed from the official list of “areas of concern” within four to five years, according to the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). The Environmental Protection Agency already has eased restrictions – known as “beneficial use impairments” – pertaining to fish consumption that allows anglers to fish those lakes with fewer constraints. Recent studies by Grand Valley State University revealed that fish in the two lakes don’t have higher concentrations of PCBs or mercury than fish in lakes that weren’t designated as “areas of concern.” Both lakes remain subject to the same fish consumption advisories as other lakes in the area. Beneficial use impairments are imposed if the chemical, physical or biological integrity of a Great Lakes ecosystem is degraded. They were placed on Muskegon and White lakes because of pollutants discharged from industrial facilities in their watersheds, according to Stephanie Swart, the area of concern coordinator for Muskegon Lake in DEQ’s Office of the Great Lakes.