Settlement Reached Over Pollution at Minnesota Superfund Site

MINNEAPOLIS (CN) – Minnesota, Wisconsin and the federal government reached a deal Thursday for three companies to pay more than $8 million for natural resource damages at a Superfund site in Minnesota.

The Justice Department announced that the United States, tribal trustees, Minnesota and Wisconsin reached an $8.2 million settlement Thursday with XIK LLC, Honeywell International Inc. and Domtar Inc. over damages at the St. Louis River/Interlake /Duluth Tar, or SLRIDT, Superfund Site.

The site consists of 255 acres of land and water and is largely located in Duluth, Minn., and stretches into the St. Louis River.

A lawsuit filed Thursday in Minnesota federal court accused the three companies of releasing polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, or PAHs, at the SLRIDT Site during the first half of the 20th century.

According to the complaint, PAHS were identified in river sediments throughout the site in concentrations high enough to cause harm to natural resources like vegetation, fish and birds.

The contamination of natural resources also caused the loss of recreational fishing and tribal use services, according to the Department of Justice.

The settlement was filed concurrently with the complaint on Thursday.

Jeffrey H. Wood, acting assistant attorney general of the DOJ’s Environment and Natural Resources Division, said in a statement that the deal was a “positive outcome”

“The restoration work enabled by this settlement will make significant contributions to the environment in the area of the St. Louis River and nearby Lake Superior,” Wood said.

XIK, Honeywell International and Domtar previously paid about $80 million to clean up the SLRIDT Superfund site under agreements with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, according to the Justice Department.

The underlying lawsuit was brought under Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act, or CERCLA, also called the Superfund Law.

Under CERCLA, federal, state, and tribal natural resource trustees have authority to seek compensation for natural resources harmed by hazardous industrial waste and by-products discharged into waters like the St. Louis River, the Justice Department said.

Thursday’s settlement, which is subject to a 30-day public comment period and final approval by a judge, includes $6.5 million for restoration activities.

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