St Louis River Cleanup Could Impact Future of Shipping Industry

By KBJR News 1

August 1, 2013 Updated Aug 1, 2013 at 10:11 AM CDT

Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) --- Efforts to clean up the St Louis River have been underway for the last 26 years, but today the restoration project got a major boost.

"An infusion of 16 million dollars in state and federal funding," said Nelson French with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.

Half of the money will go towards in water work, while the other half will be for the engineering and design of the plan. The project, however, still needs another $300-400 million dollars in funding.

"With good plans and good designs, we're confident that these larger dollars to complete the work will be available to use," said French.

The river is listed as one of 43 areas of concern around the great lakes but the extreme contamination has made it a top priority.

"This will increase the ability to attact people to Duluth and Superior, for the reasons we're here right now- which is the beautiful nature we have, the fishing, the recreation, the kayaking and this is only going to enhance our ability to enjoy this river without concerns of these contaminated sites," said French.

The clean-up could also bring a boom to the Twin Ports largest industry.

"This river represents the largest working port in the Great Lakes," said French.

The restoration could open up new doors for the shipping industry,

"If we can take care of this and remediate some of the hot spots or areas of concern and slips and other areas that are navigable waterways, we can open them up to future maritime use," said Adolph Ojard, Executive Director of the Duluth Seaway Port Authority.

Removing the contaminants fits with the port authority's long-term goal of expanding.

"we'll be able to put ships in there at full draft and utilize the facilities in the future," said Ojard.

The industry already leaves a large economic footprint on the Northland, but looks forward to the potential use of the harbor.

"The more activity we have in the harbor, the more jobs we have and I think the better the life is for everybody," said Ojard.

The project is expected to be completed by 20-25...but the future already looks bright.

The initiative will focus on pollution cleanup, prevention of the habitation of new invasive species, reducing pollution runoff, rejuvenating wetlands and educating the community through outreach.

Written and posted to the web by Raeanna Marnati