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Plan proposed to clean up Stryker Bay Superfund Site

On the surface, West Duluth's Stryker Bay should look about the same after four years of environmental cleanup efforts.

That was part of the message from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency this week as officials explained a plan for cleaning up the St. Louis River/Interlake/Duluth Tar Superfund site.

The 255 acre site was polluted by past industrial uses dating back to the 1890s. The state has been involved in getting the site cleaned up since 1981. In 1984, it was added to the federal Superfund list.

The site is located about four miles upstream from Lake Superior and includes a small portion of the shipping channel. In addition to Stryker Bay, it covers the West 59th Avenue Hallett peninsula, and West 54th Avenue peninsula.

About 960 residents live within a half mile of the site, with some homes right on the bay.

The agency has identified the companies that caused the problem and will ultimately pay for the estimated $44 million to $48 million for cleanup and related costs.

The proposal includes a combination of covering up (capping) and dredging up approximately 32 acres of Stryker Bay, slips 6 and 7 (east of Stryker Bay) and the St. Louis River. The contaminated dredged material will be stored at what is now Slip 6 of the Hallett Dock.

The bay has a two foot or more layer of contaminated sediments under the water.

If the plan goes through, Hallett will be relocating its shipping operation to another part of the harbor.

One of the "responsible parties," XIK Corporation, formerly Interlake, will eventually own the Hallett property. Slip 6 will be isolated from the river and retain a similar appearance with softer borders and undeveloped green space.

After the sediments are capped in Slip 7, it will no longer function as a deep water dock but will be able to accommodate shallow draft shipping. A representative for XIK said it intends to sell some of the property for commercial use.

Jane Mosel, agency project leader, said they hope to start work in August or September, and it will take about four years. She said work will start on the east of Stryker Bay and take about two years to complete.

Areas of the bay that are not dredged -- about 14 acres -- will be capped, then compressed with extra fill to restore water depth.

"We're looking at a lot of sand," said Mike Bares, an agency hydrogeologist. "We think about 300,000 yards."

Mosel said the public has until May 26 to get written comments to the MPCA. She said they hope to respond to the comments by June and forward a record of decision to MPCA Commissioner Sheryl Corrigan for her review.

MPCA spokesman Anne Perry Moore announced the agency is also seeking public comment on the proposed clean-up plan for drums containing hazardous waste-contaminated material and impacted soil at the Reserve Mining-Silver Bay Scrapyard and Diesel Range Organic Plume site in western Silver Bay.

The proposed $2.2-million clean-up plan is one of four alternatives considered for the 4.5 acre "drum burial pit" site. It includes excavation and removal of an estimated 3,600 55-gallon drums and adjacent contaminated soils.

The cleanup is expected to take several weeks and could start this fall. Comments will be accepted until June 12.

Copies of the proposed cleanup plan are available at the agency's Duluth office, 525 Lake Avenue South, Suite 400, the Silver Bay Public Library or at http://www.pca.state.mn.us/cleanup/sites/.

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