MPCA begins designing remedies for three contaminated sites in the Duluth harbor

Contact: Lucie Amundsen, 218-302-6600

After evaluating options and gathering public input, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) has selected remedies for three contaminated sites on the Duluth waterfront:

  • AGP/Northland Pier Slip
  • AZCON/Duluth Seaway Port Authority Slip
  • The Ponds behind Erie Pier

Engineers will now design the project remedies that will guide the construction next summer. The work is part of a larger effort to address legacy contamination at several sites in the St. Louis River estuary and Duluth harbor. The contamination is the result of a century of industrial and shipping activities and continues to threaten public health and fish and other aquatic life.

Cleanup plans in the AGP/Northland and Azcon/Duluth Seaway Port Authority slips call for removal of the most highly contaminated sediments and installing caps of clean material and armor stone. The Ponds behind Erie Pier will be dredged, and contaminated sediment removed and disposed of in a landfill.

The MPCA is seeking to partner with the U.S. EPA through the Great Lakes Legacy Act to complete the three projects. Bonding funds granted by the 2017 Minnesota Legislature will be used to match funds provided by the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. If the MPCA application to the EPA is successful, the two slip projects, estimated to cost $6.2 million, would begin in summer 2020. The Ponds behind Erie Pier project would begin in summer 2021 and cost an estimated $15.8 million.

All three projects will involve environmental review and permitting processes that provide opportunities for public comment. Those processes will begin partway through the design phase and be completed before construction.

The three cleanup sites are part of the St. Louis River Area of Concern (SLRAOC), 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 SLRAOC 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.

Learn more on the SLRAOC web pages.