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$6.3 million cleanup of Newton Creek and Hog Island Inlet, the second Great Lakes Legacy Act project, is now complete

Release Date: 11/28/2005
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SUPERIOR, WIS. (Nov. 28, 2005) EPA Great Lakes National Program Director Gary Gulezian and Gov. Jim Doyle today celebrated the completion of the state-federal cleanup of contaminated sediment from Newton Creek and Hog Island Inlet. The $6.3 million cleanup project was the second completed under the Great Lakes Legacy Act of 2002, a special initiative to clean up 31 pollution hotspots on the U.S. side of the Great Lakes.

“As the second cleanup funded under President Bush’s Great Lakes Legacy Act, this restoration has delivered a water body with enhanced recreational, residential and economic values,” said EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson. “Every drop of water that flows from Newton Creek and Hog Island Inlet – and out to Lake Superior – will be cleaner because of our efforts.”

The creek and the inlet are part of the St. Louis River watershed, the largest tributary to drain into Lake Superior.

Over the past four months, EPA and the Wisconsin Dept. of Natural Resources (WDNR) have removed 60,000 tons of sediment polluted by petroleum products and lead from the mouth of the creek and the man-made inlet. The contamination damaged the habitat for fish and other aquatic life and local officials had posted “No Swimming” signs around the area, which have now been removed.

The Legacy Act project was the final step in the cleanup of 3-mile-long Newton Creek and Hog Island Inlet. Murphy Oil Co., which owns a refinery in Superior, cleaned up the upper reaches of Newton Creek in the mid-1990s and WDNR cleaned up the middle stretches in 2003.

“This is an important and historic day for the City of Superior and to all those who use and enjoy Lake Superior,” said Gov. Doyle. “It shows that
great things can be accomplished when government agencies and citizens groups pool their resources to achieve a common goal.”

Contaminated sediment is one of the major reasons why many Great Lakes fish are not safe to eat in unlimited quantities. It also harms aquatic habitat and pollutes sources of drinking water. This has been a long-term and persistent problem throughout the entire Great Lakes basin. There are still millions of cubic yards of contaminated sediment to be removed from the Great Lakes.

The Great Lakes Legacy Act authorizes $270 million in funding over five years for cleanups of contaminated sediment hotspots. In 2004, the first year funds were available, Congress appropriated $9.9 million. In 2005, Congress appropriated $22.3 million and $30 million will be available in 2006. The cleanup of the Black Lagoon, an inlet of the Detroit River in Trenton, Mich. was completed earlier this month. Another Legacy Act project is currently underway at Ruddiman Creek in Muskegon, Mich., and more projects are expected to begin soon.

The cost of the Newton Creek and Hog Island Inlet cleanup was shared between EPA (65 percent) and WDNR (35 percent).

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