to begin removing barrels from Lake Superior near Duluth
Wisconsin Public Radio
May 1, 2009
The Red Cliff Band of Chippewa will begin
removing rusty, half-century- old Department of Defense barrels from Lake Superior
near Duluth this summer.
The Red Cliff Band of Chippewa will begin removing
rusty, half-century- old Department of Defense barrels from Lake Superior near
Duluth this summer.
A report released today says a scan of Lake Superior’s
bottom found 591 targets that are probably munitions barrels dumped during the
The Red Cliff Band has been investigating the dumping of more
than 1,400 barrels a few miles from the Duluth harbor for five years. Now, they’ve
signed their largest contract with the Department of Defense -- $1.2 million over
the next two years -- to remove about 70 of those barrels and examine the contents
to see if they pose a danger to the fish habitat and drinking water of Lake Superior.
report is the culmination of last year’s lake bottom sonar and camera survey of
96 square miles. It found nearly 600 likely barrels in varying states of rust.
Pictures show concrete mixed with what’s being called “munitions debris”...scrap
from a 1950’s secret grenade project that the United States wanted to keep secret
from the Soviet Union.
For decades, environmental groups have speculated
that there is more than concrete and metal in the 60 gallon drums. Now, through
a DOD program that pays to clean up ammo dumps on reservations and ceded Indian
territories, investigators hope to have answers later this summer.
the investigation of Lake Superior’s bottom off the Duluth Harbor has found three
sites where barrels were dumped 50 years ago by the Department of Defense.
sonar and camera grid scan last summer and fall found 591 likely barrels off Lester
River, the Sucker River, and Talmadge River, but did not find barrels in four
other expected locations off Knife River, French River, Shoreview Road and Knife
Island sites. The investigation by EMR engineering of Duluth and commissioned
by the Red Cliff Band of Chippewa has not completely eliminated those areas as
likely barrel dump sites; the barrels could be outside the 96 square mile sonar
The Red Cliff Band may go beyond removing and testing barrels. It
is also asking for another $365,000 to do a toxicology study on the Lake Superior
sediment to see if it has been contaminated by the barrels. The report states:
“This is considered key to determining the potential threat the contents of the
barrels may pose to area residents, aquatic life and the environment and whether
or not preservation of the rich resources cherished by all who share the splendor
of Lake Superior warrants further remedial efforts.”