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Residential dust sampling near St. Regis Paper site shows low contamination levels; meetings March 21-22

Release Date: 03/11/2005
Contact Information:

Don de Blasio, (312) 886-4360
Mick Hans, (312) 353-5050

For Immediate Release
No. 05-OPA026

CHICAGO (Mar. 11, 2005) — U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 5 has sent letters to 10 Cass Lake, Minn., residents advising them of levels of contaminants found in dust samples collected in their homes in October by International Paper. None of the samples show levels of contamination that require immediate action.

Some of the homes had levels of either dioxin or arsenic that may slightly increase long-term health risks of the residents. EPA is examining whether some action is needed.

The letters were mailed on Friday, March 4. IP collected dust samples as part of a health risk assessment conducted by International Paper. IP, as the responsible party, had been ordered by EPA to evaluate the level and extent of contamination associated with the St. Regis Paper Superfund site in Cass Lake.

IP tested for dioxin, arsenic and other potentially hazardous site-related chemicals. As a result of the findings, EPA has begun discussions with IP to address the situation in a way that protects residents.

EPA will hold public availability sessions on March 21- 22 in which residents may drop by to get answers on their questions about the findings and possible next steps. In the meantime, residents may direct their questions to either Don de Blasio or Tim Drexler, at (800) 621-8431, ext. 64360 (de Blasio) or 34367 (Drexler), 9:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. weekdays.

International Paper, which acquired Champion International in 2000, is responsible for cleaning up soil and ground-water contamination on and around the site. Champion bought the St. Regis Paper Co. in 1985.

Information about the St. Regis Paper Superfund site is available on EPA's Web site at Technical documents and other information about the site are on file at three locations in Cass Lake: Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe Division of Resource Management, 113 Balsam Ave.; Leech Lake Tribal College Library, 6350 Highway 2, N.W.; and Cass Lake City Clerk's office, 332 Second St. N.W. Site documents are also available at Bemidji State University's A.C. Clark Library, 1500 Birchmont Drive, N.E., Bemidji.