The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) announced Monday it recommends contaminated sediment in Minnesota Slip, home to the William A. Irvin tourist attraction, a Vista Fleet dock and several charter fishing boat docks.
“We are working with property owners around the slip” to minimize the impact on their companies, said MPCA Project Manager Heidi Bauman.
The selected remedy will cost $1.6 million – the least expensive option. It involves moving 2,500 cubic yards of contaminated sediments to the slip’s deeper areas, leveling that sediment then covering it with a three-foot cap. No offsite disposal will be needed, the MPCA said in a prepared statement.
“That will leave a 10- to 12-foot draft, which is deep enough for the Irvin,” Bauman said in an interview. During the work, however, vessels will need to be removed.
“It’s going to be difficult. We had hoped to do it in early spring or late fall, when the docks and charter boats are out. These are all details that will have to be worked out. Our goal is to make it the least painful for everybody,” she said.
Remediation funding depends upon the state legislature passing a bonding bill that contains money for Minnesota Slip and other St. Louis River Area of Concern projects. Barring unforeseen design or funding delays, construction could begin in 2018, the MPCA said. If the city of Duluth receives bonding money to repair its aging Minnesota Slip dock wall, it’s hoped those repairs can be completed at the same time, Bauman said.
The slip’s contamination is the result of a century of industrial and shipping activities in the Duluth-Superior harbor that left “legacy pollutants.” The site is one of 10 identified in Minnesota for cleanup as part of the St. Louis River Area of Concern Remedial Action Plan. The MPCA’s goal is to minimize exposure to sediment contaminants that contribute to fish-consumption advisories, minimize aquatic organism exposure to contaminated sediments, preserve water depth to enable the current slip use and enhance fish habitat where possible.
In partnership with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers – Detroit office, MPCA staff has begun the design process. The effort will include a more extensive environmental review and allow for additional public comment.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will most likely select a project contractor from its list of qualified companies.