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St. Regis Paper Superfund site update: Cass Lake well-pumping test begins

Release Date: 12/07/2006
Contact Information: Mick Hans, (312) 353-5050,

CONTACT: Mick Hans, (312) 353-5050,

No. 06-OPA222

St. Regis Paper Superfund site update: Cass Lake well-pumping test begins

CHICAGO (Dec. 7, 2006) - A test of the ground water treatment system at the St. Regis Paper Superfund site in Cass Lake, Minn., is now under way. The work, performed by International Paper Co. contractors under U.S. Environmental Protection Agency oversight and in cooperation with the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe and the state of Minnesota, should be completed in a few weeks.

Cass Lake residents may see contractor crews, some wearing required protective equipment, in an area generally south of the BNSF railroad tracks, north of Fox Creek, east of Route 371 and west of Pike Bay/Cass Lake. Contractors will also collect data in Fox Creek and the channel between Cass Lake and Pike Bay.

The project will provide data on the effectiveness of the pump-and-treat well systems which began operation in 1987 to remove ground water contaminated by the Superfund site. The underground aquifer will be tested by changing pumping rates over a one week period and measuring the effects at about 80 monitoring locations. The data will be used to determine whether the pump-and-treat system is operating as intended.

In other site news, IP recently completed installation of a fence around a portion of the former St. Regis Paper property that has levels of dioxin that require EPA to take action. A second area also has high dioxin levels but
requires commercial access for truck traffic. That area is covered with four inches of gravel to prevent contact with the contaminated soils.

Also, IP is still developing a human health and ecological risk assessment under EPA oversight, with assistance from the Leech Lake Band and the state. A final version of that document should be available to the public in spring 2007.

In addition, periodic cleaning of residential home interiors near the site by IP contractors continues under an EPA order. The cleanings reduce the amount of dust from the site in the homes as an interim action while additional work is considered. A local business was contracted for this work by IP.

Questions regarding about the St. Regis Superfund site may be directed to EPA remedial project manager Tim Drexler at (800) 621-8431, Ext. 34367 and

The St. Regis Paper Superfund site was a wood treatment facility that operated from about 1958 to 1985. The site was initially cleaned up in the 1980s by its former owner, Champion International. IP is the current property owner and continues to treat ground-water from the site. A five-year review of the site, conducted in 2005 by EPA, concluded that more information was needed to judge the effectiveness of the ground water pump-and-treat system.

More information about the St. Regis Superfund site is available at Cass Lake Library, Leech Lake Tribal College, the Bemidji State University Library and the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe Division of Resource Management. Documents are also online at

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