WASHINGTON – Northern States Power Co. will begin cleanup of the Ashland/Northern States Power Lakefront Superfund Site in northwestern Wisconsin under a settlement with the Department of Justice and the Environmental Protection Agency.
According to the EPA, the 40-acre site is located on the shore of Chequamegon Bay in Lake Superior. It was used for various industrial purposes for more than a century. The EPA said that use resulted resulting in the release of volatile organic compounds, such as benzene, and semivolatile organic compounds, such as naphthalene.
Under the agreement, filed this week with the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin in Madison, Northern States Power will design, construct and implement the cleanup plan for the on-land portion of the site. The on-land cleanup is expected to cost approximately $40 million. The federal government will also require additional cleanup of sediments in Chequamegon Bay. The EPA said it expects that Northern States Power and any other responsible parties will perform the rest of the cleanup. That work is not part of the agreement filed with the Court.
The agreement also requires Northern States Power to transfer approximately 990 acres of land along the Iron River to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and 400 acres within the reservation of the Bad River Band of the Lake Superior Chippewa Indians to the Bad River tribe. These parcels are worth about $1.9 million. They will be preserved by the state and the Bad River tribe to enhance natural resources in the area that have
been harmed by pollution from the site, such as fisheries in Chequamegon Bay and its rivers.
In addition, the state of Wisconsin will transfer 114 acres of land to the Red Cliff Band of the Lake Superior Chippewa Indians. That land will also be managed to preserve natural resources.
For more than a century, the Ashland site has been home to various industrial uses, including sawmills, railroads, and a city wastewater treatment plant. The EPA says the primary source of pollution at the site was the manufactured gas plant operated by Northern States Power’s predecessor company between 1885 and 1947. The EPA says pollution from the manufactured gas plant contaminated both the on-land portion of the site and the sediment in the bay.