MPCA seeks public comment on Munger Landing and Mud Lake West cleanup within the St. Louis River Area of Concern

Contact: Lucie Amundsen, 218-302-6600

Duluth, Minn. — The Duluth regional office of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA), along with partner Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) will hold a public meeting regarding the cleanup of Munger Landing and Mud Lake West sites within the St. Louis River Area of Concern. The Aug. 22 meeting, from 4:00-7:00 p.m. at the Gary New Duluth Community Center, offers the public a chance to review cleanup options, ranging from no action to full removal of contaminated sediments above cleanup levels. Attendees will be able to ask questions and make comments for both sites. A remedy selection typically takes one month once comments have been received.

The Munger Landing site is adjacent to the Clyde Avenue boat launch in Duluth’s Smithville neighborhood. Mud Lake West is both a wetland and open water and is located adjacent to the Gary New Duluth neighborhood. It lies west of the city-owned railroad causeway that bisects Mud Lake, a bay adjacent to the St. Louis River.

The Munger Landing sediments have been the subject of numerous cleanup investigations, which identified heavy metals (including mercury), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and dioxins/furans as contaminants of concern. This contamination likely affects benthic invertebrates, organisms at the bottom of the food chain that live in or on the bottom sediments of rivers, streams, and lakes. The levels of contaminants also present a risk to human health for swimming, wading, or eating fish. Because the contaminated sediment crosses the state line into Wisconsin, MPCA is coordinating with the WDNR to develop a cleanup plan for the site that is protective of human health, the environment, and meets regulatory requirements for each state.

The Mud Lake West sediments were the subject of a 2015 cleanup investigation. The investigation identified nickel, zinc, and dioxins/furans as contaminants of concern in the sediments. Additional sediment investigation and biological testing were done in 2017 and 2019 to assess impacts to benthic invertebrates from these contaminants.

These contaminated sediments at Munger Landing and Mud Lake West potentially contribute to three beneficial use impairments caused by legacy contamination in the St. Louis River AOC:

  • Restrictions on dredging
  • Fish consumption advisories
  • Degradation of the benthic community (insects and vegetation living at the sediment surface)

MPCA staff will be on hand to answer questions about each project, sediment cleanup alternatives, timelines, and next steps.  WDNR staff will also be in attendance to answer questions about the part of the Munger Landing site in Wisconsin.

The public can comment on the cleanup alternatives at the open house or in writing. Comments should be directed to Erin Endsley, MPCA Project Manager, 525 Lake Avenue South, Suite 400, Duluth, MN 55802 or by email at erin.endsley@state.mn.us. All comments must be received by 4:30 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 16.

The St. Louis River Area of Concern is one of 43 AOCs within the Great Lakes basin. In 2013, the MPCA, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, WDNR, and Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa developed an aggressive plan to clean up and restore the area from historic pollution and habitat impacts. To date, 44 percent of the AOC’s management actions are complete. The Munger Landing and Mud Lake West sites are two of the contaminated sediment areas targeted for cleanup during the next five years.

For more information about cleanup and restoration activities in the St. Louis River, visit the MPCA’s St. Louis River Area of Concern webpage.

The St. Louis River AOC work is partially funded by the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative with oversight by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.