Explosive Barrel Material Put Back in Lake Superior

By KBJR News 1

Explosive Barrel Material Put Back in Lake Superior

March 7, 2013 Updated Mar 7, 2013 at 10:35 PM CDT

Red Cliff, WI (NNCNOW.com)-- More than a month after information surfaced about the recovery of barrels dumped into Lake Superior, spokespeople are providing further details about the project.

According to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, the US Army dumped just under 1,500 barrels into Lake Superior between Duluth and Two Harbors, from 1959 into 1962.

The Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa set out to recover 70 barrels. They were able to retrieve 25.

22 of them contained explosive material.

At a news conference Thursday, those who worked on the project said they were forced to place the explosive material back into the lake with GPS devices attached.

Officials from the retrieval project say when they discovered 15,000 ejector cup assemblies with explosive material, federal regulations prevented them from taking that material back to shore.

The Great Lakes region does not support a system that facilitates the removal of the hazardous material from the lake.

According to the band and project leaders, there is no immediate hazard from the barrels.

Spokespeople say with the right paperwork, they expect to be able to retrieve the cluster bombs sometime this spring.

Red Cliff Tribal Chairperson, Rose Soulier says though they [the band] didn't put the barrels into the lake, they want any environmental risks to be mitigated.

"We, like you, want the questions answered on the potential risks we face ourselves," said Soulier. "The ecological health or the risks to our environment."

Three of the barrels retrieved were brought back to shore because no explosive material was found inside.

Tribal officials say there will be a feasibility study conducted this year to determine the cost and environmental implications of removing the rest of the barrels. It should wrap up this Fall.

Zach Vavricka

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