Three Contaminated Sites in Duluth Harbor to Undergo Cleanup |

Three Contaminated Sites in Duluth Harbor to Undergo Cleanup

Ryan Juntti
Updated: November 06, 2019 10:37 PM

Legacy contaminants have been in and around the Duluth Harbor for years, but now there is a new effort to address them.

Three sites in the Duluth Harbor are now set to undergo cleanup plans. This work is part of a larger effort to address legacy contaminants in the St. Louis River Estuary and Duluth Harbor.

"Waste management disposal practices for industry have changed hugely since the historic times," said Duluth Seaway Port Authority Executive Director Deb DeLuca.

But the effects of the old waste management practices are still being felt in the Duluth Harbor.

There are legacy contaminants in the 8.4-acre AGP/Northland Pier Slip, 6.4-acre AZCON/Duluth Seaway Port Authority Slip, and The Ponds behind Erie Pier.

"These contaminated sediments... pose a risk to the benthic habitat, those critters that live down there in the sediment, as well as the fish, and then extending up to human health, so it's really important for us to remove that risk from the system," said Minnesota Pollution Control Agency Contaminated Sediment Coordinator LaRae Lehto.

Cleanup plans in the two slips include removing highly contaminated sediments, and installing caps of clean material and armor stone. 

The Ponds behind Erie Pier will be dredged and contaminated sediment will be removed and disposed of in a landfill.

"By removing or eliminating exposure to the contaminated sediments... hopefully the fish become healthier, hopefully the whole waterway becomes healthier, and we remove those limitations on how we can use the area," said Lehto.

The two slip projects, estimated to cost $6.2 million are expected to begin next summer. The Ponds behind Erie Pier project, estimated to cost $15.8 million is expected to start the summer of 2021.

The projects will partially be funded with state bonding funds and matched by the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. The MPCA is also working to secure funding from the U.S. EPA Great Lakes Legacy Act.

The three cleanup sites are part of the St. Louis River Area of Concern, one of 43 Great Lakes locations in the United States and Canada where shoreline alterations and industrial contamination have degraded water quality and threatened wildlife habitat and aquatic life.

Primary partners in the cleanup efforts include the Fond du Lac band of Lake Superior Chippewa, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, MPCA, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. EPA, and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.


Ryan Juntti

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