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Justice Opens 30-Day Public Comment Period on Proposed Settlement for Natural Resource Damages at Ashland Lakefront NPL Site in Ashland County, Wisconsin


08/14/2012


Ashland, Wisconsin lakefront on Chequamegon Bay Sediments in Chequamegon Bay east of the Ashland Marina, shown here in November 2003, have been contaminated by hazardous substances releases from industrial and former industrial areas along the lakefront in Ashland. Chequamegon Bay is an embayment on Lake Superior in northwestern Wisconsin. Photo credit: EPA.

 

On August 14, 2012, the U.S. Department of Justice opened a 30-day public comment period on a proposed settlement with Northern States Power Company for claims, including natural resource damage claims, arising from hazardous substances releases from the Ashland Lakefront NPL site in Ashland, Ashland County, Wisconsin.

The natural resource trustees in this case include:

  • Bad River Band of the Lake Superior Tribe of Chippewa Indians;
  • Red Cliff Band of the Lake Superior Tribe of Chippewa Indians;
  • State of Wisconsin, represented by Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources;
  • U.S. Department of Commerce, represented by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; and,
  • U.S. Department of the Interior, represented by Bureau of Indian Affairs, National Park Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The Ashland Lakefront site encompasses 40 acres of industrial and former industrial areas along the Ashland shoreline on Chequamegon Bay, a 12-mile long, V-shaped embayment on Lake Superior in northwestern Wisconsin. Industrial activities in these lakefront areas over the past 150 years -- including coal gasification, waste water treatment, lumber milling, wastes disposal and land-filling -- resulted in the release of hazardous substances, the contamination of soils, sediments and groundwater and injury to natural resources and natural resource services. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency placed the site on the National Priorities List in 2002.

Under the proposed settlement for natural resource damages in the lodged Consent Decree, Northern States Power Company will:

  • Transfer approximately 400 acres of land it owns within the Bad River Reservation to the Bad River Band of the Lake Superior Tribe of Chippewa Indians for the improvement of natural resources in the Bad River Falls area; and,
  • Transfer approximately 990 acres of land it owns along the Iron River in Orienta, Bayfield County, Wisconsin, consisting of four parcels, to Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources for the improvement of natural resources in the Iron River watershed.

These parcels of land have been valued at $1.9 million. Additionally, the State of Wisconsin will transfer approximately 120 acres of land it owns to the Red Cliff Band of the Lake Superior Tribe of Chippewa Indians for the improvement of natural resources in the Raspberry River watershed.

Written comments on the proposed Consent Decree must be received by Department of Justice’s Environment and Natural Resources Division by September 13, 2012.

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