Great Lakes Region

On June 30, 2017, NOAA and other trustees for a Natural Resources Damage Assessment case in the St. Louis River Estuary announced a proposed $8.2 million settlement for the restoration of injuries to the area’s natural resources.  The trustees for this case include the U.S. Department of the Interior, the states of Minnesota and Wisconsin, and local tribes.  The proposed settlement includes restoration of Kingsbury Bay and its watershed, native wild rice restoration, and the provision of educational amenities pertaining to cultural resources in the area.

Tar-like substances seep up out of the ground.

The “tar seep” substances shown here are similar to the contaminants that were removed during the remediation process at several sites within the St. Louis River Estuary. Photo credit: NOAA DAARP. 

As a result of historical industrial operations along the St. Louis River, numerous hazardous chemicals – including Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs), which are toxic to aquatic life and suspected of causing cancer in humans – were released into the environment, leading to the area’s degradation.  The St. Louis River Superfund site was officially listed on the National Priorities List in 1983.

The trustees worked with EPA to determine the nature, extent, and effects of the contamination under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act, also known as the Superfund Law. The trustees also have governmental authority to seek compensation under this law for natural resources harmed by decades of industrial wastes and by-products discharged into the St. Louis River.

For additional information on the proposed settlement for this hazardous waste site, read more at NOAA’s Damage Assessment, Remediation and Restoration Program’s website, view the draft Restoration Plan here, read the press release from the U.S. Department of Justice, or view the latest blog post on this topic from NOAA’s Office of Response and Restoration.

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