Public meeting to discuss Cass Lake Superfund site cleanupby Elizabeth Baier, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — The Environmental Protection Agency will hold a public meeting Tuesday to update residents on cleanup plans at the St. Regis Paper Superfund site near Cass Lake.
For nearly 30 years, the St. Regis Paper Company produced chemically-treated telephone poles and railroad ties at the site, not far from the headquarters of the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe. At the time, it was not known that the chemicals they used were dangerous.
The plant shut down in 1985, and cleanup at the site has been going on ever since. The EPA says the site still poses health risks to local residents because dangerous chemicals linger in the soil and groundwater around the former wood treatment plant.
Last year, the EPA ordered potential responsible parties -- including International Paper, the current owner of the St. Regis site -- to come up with a plan to permanently protect people from the chemicals. Tons of soil has been removed over the years. Wells and extraction systems were installed to clean plumes of contaminated groundwater.
About 30 families also have homes within the Superfund boundaries, and high levels of cancer-causing chemicals like dioxin and pentachlorophenol can still be found in their yards.
The EPA is currently working on a feasibility study to evaluate several permanent cleanup options.
Tuesday's public meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. June 23 and Leech Lake Tribal College, Room 100, A-Wing, 113 Balsam N.W., Cass Lake.