EPA Announces Start of Two GLRI-Funded Great Lakes Cleanups Totaling $22.5 Million in the Saint Louis River Area of Concern
DULUTH/SUPERIOR (Sep. 18, 2020) – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and partners will soon begin work at two projects funded by the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) in the St. Louis River Area of Concern (AOC). Cleanup activities are slated to begin at Azcon Slip in Duluth, Minn., and Howards Bay in Superior, Wis. Both projects will remediate contaminated sediment under the authority of Great Lakes Legacy Act and are a collaboration between EPA, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and non-federal partners. The actual construction work at both projects will be completed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Last week, EPA Associate Deputy Administrator Doug Benevento was joined by Region 5 Administrator Kurt Thiede and Congressmen Tiffany and Stauber for a tour of projects underway in the AOC before announcing significant federal investments in the Great Lakes region at a press conference in Superior.
“Great Lakes Legacy Act project agreements demonstrate that when federal, state, local, and industry partners work together collaboratively, we can solve complex environmental problems and get the job done,” said Region 5 Administrator and Great Lakes National Program Manager Kurt Thiede. “These cleanups will significantly advance our efforts to restore the lower St. Louis River, a waterway that Great Lakes shipping and the regional economy depend upon.”
“Today’s announcement once again demonstrates President Trump and Administrator Wheeler’s strong support for local priorities and their deep and abiding commitment to a cleaner environment and a brighter economic future for the Twin Ports region,” said Rep. Tom Tiffany.
“I am thrilled to hear that the EPA will soon begin two projects to clean the St. Louis River Area of Concern as they will help bolster our region’s commerce and provide further opportunities for recreation,” said Rep. Pete Stauber. “I am grateful to President Trump, Administrator Wheeler, and Regional Administrator Thiede for listening to our needs and responding with the help necessary to clean up Areas of Concern. I have been a steadfast proponent of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative since I started in Congress and I’m delighted to see our efforts come to fruition. I look forward to more progress being made with these GLRI funds and continued collaboration in the future.”
Work will begin next week in the Azcon/Duluth Seaway Port Authority Slip, an active 6.5-acre shipping slip located in the Duluth-Superior harbor. The project will remediate approximately 55,000 cubic yards of sediment contaminated with lead, dioxin/furans and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, or PAHs. Approximately 700 cubic yards of the most contaminated sediment in the Slip will be removed and properly disposed of. The remainder will be capped in place with clean sediment to prevent exposure to aquatic organisms. The cap will be armored with stone to protect against erosion.
The MPCA has agreed to contribute up to $1,575,000 to the total project cost of $4.5 million.
“MPCA is thrilled that through the Great Lakes Legacy Act and the hard work of and with partners, the St. Louis Area River of Concern will be over 50,000 cubic yards closer to its goals of a healthy and safe waterway,” said MPCA Assistant Commissioner for Water Policy Katrina Kessler.
Later this month work will begin at Howards Bay, an industrialized embayment located in the Wisconsin portion of the St. Louis River AOC. The site has been the location of multiple shipyards, commercial shipping activity and other industry since the early 1800s. River sediment is contaminated with tributyltin, PAHs and heavy metals including mercury and lead. Contamination has built up in the sediment at the bottom of the bay, damaging fish and wildlife habitat and the aquatic food chain. Dredging has been restricted in the bay due to the contaminated sediment, making it difficult for large vessels to access the shipyards.
A voluntary public-private partnership was formed between EPA, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR), Fraser Shipyards and the City of Superior to address contaminated sediment in Howards Bay, three adjoining slips and the federal navigation channel. Approximately 75,000 cubic yards of contaminated sediment will be dredged. Dredged material that is acceptable for beneficial use will be used to improve the cap and cover at the closed Wisconsin Point Landfill.
WDNR, Fraser Shipyards and the city of Superior are funding $6.5 million of the total project cost of $18 million.
“The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative continues to be one of the greatest regional conservation success stories in the nation,” said Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Secretary Preston D. Cole. “These projects can now be added to hundreds of others that have been undertaken here in Wisconsin that have cleaned up toxic hot spots, reduced polluted runoff and improved habitat. Not only have the projects improved the quality of life for our citizens, they also measurably improved local economies. We are proud to partner in this important work.”
For more information on the Azcon/DSPA Slip project, visit: https://www.epa.gov/great-lakes-aocs/azcondspa-slip-project-great-lakes-legacy-act-project-st-louis-river-aoc
For more information on the Howards Bay project, visit: https://www.epa.gov/great-lakes-aocs/howards-bay-remediation