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EPA Completes Cleanup of Quincy Smelter at Torch Lake Superfund Site

Release Date: 11/07/2013
Contact Information: Joshua Singer, 312-353-5069, (media only)

HOUGHTON -- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 5 Administrator Susan Hedman today joined Keweenaw National Historical Park Superintendent Mike Pflaum to announce that the Quincy Smelter portion of the Torch Lake Superfund site in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, has been deleted from the National Priorities List. The announcement occurred at an event in Houghton, Michigan directly across the Keweenaw waterway from the historic smelter in Franklin Township.

“Now that EPA has cleaned up the area around the Quincy Smelter, the Park Service will be able to use this historic structure.” Hedman said. “EPA will continue working to remediate the remainder of the Torch Lake Superfund site, so that it can be removed from the National Priorities List.”

Torch Lake was listed as a Superfund site in 1986. An estimated 200 million tons of tailings -- also known as copper stamp sands –- were dumped in and around Torch Lake during a century of copper milling and smelting operations from 1868 to 1968.

Originally built by the Quincy Mining Co. in 1898, the Quincy Smelter has historic significance as the last standing copper smelter of its kind. The National Park Service is exploring various alternatives for the preservation and interpretation of the site.

"The National Park Service at Keweenaw National Historical Park commends the EPA, Franklin Township and the many partners involved in the effort leading to the deletion of the Quincy Smelting Works from the Superfund's National Priority List,” Pflaum said. “A tremendous amount of planning and ground work over a long period of time has resulted in this major environmental improvement and decision. This is a notable milestone for the long-term preservation and interpretation of the nationally significant smelter, which is located within the boundary of Keweenaw National Historical Park. We look forward to continuing the positive work with all involved to ensure future progress in the protection of the smelter for the benefit of the community and enjoyment and education of park visitors.”

The Superfund law allows EPA to delete portions of Superfund sites on the National Priorities List when cleanup goals have been met and a location is ready for redevelopment and reuse.

EPA also recently finished cleanup work at the Calumet Lake portion of the Torch Lake Superfund site and has deleted this area from the National Priorities List. EPA previously deleted five other portions of the Torch Lake Superfund site: Lake Linden Sands, Hubbell/Tamarack, Isle Royal Sands, Mason Smelter and Michigan Smelter.

For more information on Torch Lake:

For more information on the Keweenaw National Historical Park: