The St. Louis River Area of Concern (AOC) is one step closer to delisting following completion of a contaminated sediment clean-up project at AZCON/Duluth Seaway Port Authority’s Slip November 12.
The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) and Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA)-funded project removed 850 cubic yards of contaminated sediment and capped an additional 55,000 cubic yards using a cap comprised of clean dredge material from the federal navigation channel and armoring stone to protect it from erosion.
“By beneficially reusing the dredged material from the navigation channel, the team was able to achieve remedial objectives, limit waste generation and decrease the environmental impact,” said Amanda Meyer, project manager, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Detroit District.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), awarded the contract and oversaw project dredging and construction on behalf of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The contract was awarded to Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin-based Roen Salvage Company for nearly $1.2 million. The total project cost was $2 million.
Three additional slip sediment remediation projects, Minnesota Slip, Slip 3 and Slip C were completed in the Port of Duluth-Superior within the St. Louis River AOC in 2018.
“This cleanup is an important step toward removing the St. Louis River AOC from the list of the most polluted places around the Great Lakes,” said EPA Region 5 Administrator and Great Lakes National Program Manager Kurt Thiede. “EPA is excited to continue its collaboration with our federal, state, tribal, local and non-governmental partners as we celebrate another milestone in restoring the river.”
There are many partners involved in the St. Louis River AOC including EPA, USACE, NOAA, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, U.S. Geological Survey, Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, MPCA, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. Minnesota Sea Grant, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, St. Louis River Alliance and the cities of Duluth, Minnesota and Superior, Wisconsin.
“The partnership between USACE, EPA and MPCA once again made for another important sediment remediation project,” said LaRae Lehto, Contaminated Sediment Program Coordinator, MPCA. “We also greatly appreciate the cooperation of the Duluth Seaway Port Authority and Azcon Metals. This puts us one step closer to restoring the St. Louis River.”
The St. Louis River AOC is one of the 31 U.S.-based AOCs across the Great Lakes created under the 1987 Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. The watershed drains 3,634 square miles and encompasses a 1,020 square-mile area. The St. Louis River is the second largest U.S.-based AOC.
The GLRI, accelerates efforts to protect and restore the largest system of fresh surface water in the world – the Great Lakes. The project was conducted under the GLRI’s sediment clean-up program, the Great Lakes Legacy Act.
Before modern pollution laws, historical industrial river use resulted in sediments contaminated with mercury, heavy metals, dioxins, polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs and other toxins.
Several other remedial projects located in Minnesota are anticipated to begin in the next couple years. They include: Ponds behind Erie Pier, Scanlon Reservoir, Munger Landing, and Thomson Reservoir.
USACE is currently overseeing another GLRI project removing more than 130,000 cubic yards of material, including contaminated sediment and debris, from Howards Bay in Superior, Wisconsin and is slated for completion by November 2021.
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Bill Dowell, 313-226-4680, William.R.Dowell@usace.army.mil,
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Denise Fortin, 312-886-9859, firstname.lastname@example.org
Minnesota Pollution Control Agency
Lucie Amundson, 218-302-6600, email@example.com