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St. Regis Paper Superfund site update: Cass Lake residential cleaning to begin early February

Release Date: 01/23/2006
Contact Information: Don de Blasio, (312) 886-4360 Mick Hans, (312) 353-5050

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
No. 06-OPA013

CHICAGO (Jan. 23, 2006) -- International Paper will begin cleanup of up to 40 homes near the St. Regis Paper Superfund site in Cass Lake, Minn., in early February. The project will be performed under EPA oversight and is expected to last into late March.

Cass Lake residents may see crews in legally required protective clothing working in the neighborhood near the site. The site includes the area south of the BNSF railroad tracks, north of Chippewa National Forest, east of Route 371 and west of Pike Bay/Cass Lake.

EPA announced the plan in October 2005 to clean up and control contaminated dust tracked into homes near the site. At each home, IP contractors will replace carpets, remove and dry clean drapes, vacuum and wet-wipe surfaces and clean duct systems. In addition, contaminated topsoil around the homes will be covered with clean fill and seeded in the spring, with the removed material sent to the Onyx FCR Landfill in Wright County.

Families in each of the homes will be relocated for about 3 to 5 days to hotels in Cass Lake and Bemidji at IP’s expense during the cleaning. All families will also receive a meal allowance.

Following the initial cleanups, IP crews will return for periodic follow-up cleanings (without relocation) until a permanent remedy is initiated at the site. A dust suppressant will also be applied to unpaved roads near the site starting in May.

The St. Regis 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. Later reviews of the 1980s cleanup showed that additional sampling and a risk assessment were needed. In 2004, EPA ordered IP to sample dust in houses near the site as part of the risk assessment. Results showed a long-term risk from site-related contaminants, primarily arsenic and dioxin.

IP and/or its contractors will have local representatives to discuss the house dust cleanup project with residents. Questions may also be directed to EPA community involvement coordinator Don de Blasio at (800) 621-8431, Ext. 64360 or deblasio.don@epa.gov.

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 Dept. of Resource Management. Documents are also online at http://www.epa.gov/region5/sites/stregis/.

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