PowerPoint presentations

We have currently completed the Investigation Report and working on the Results and Summary Report. Results and Summary Report will include a site history, site description, site characteristics, community participation enforcement activities, past and present activities, contaminated media, the contaminants present, scope and role of response action and the remedy selected for cleanup. This report will be completed in February of 2016.  If your community would like a PowerPoint presentation on the Investigation Report and/or the Results and Summary Report, please feel free to request a presentation.

If you have any questions on the Lake Superior Barrels Project, feel free to submit a request on our blog and we will contact you as soon as possible.



Investigation Report Summary

The Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa is working with the U.S. Department of Defense and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers under the Native American Lands Environmental Mitigation Program to locate and investigate approximately 1,400 barrels containing waste materials from the Twin Cities Army Ammunition Plant that were dumped into Lake Superior between 1959 and 1962. The lake is of unique importance to the Tribe,  and the Tribe is committed to protecting and preserving the lake’s cultural and natural resources for future generations. It is the Tribe’s priority to obtain sufficient information to assess and evaluate the environmental threat to the lake posed by the barrels and their contents.

Six dump sites have been identified to date )Lester River, Talmadge River, French River, Sucker River, Knife River, and Shoreview Road) that range in area from 0.4 to 4.5 square miles with water depths ranging from 37 feet to nearly 500 feet. As part of this investigation, geophysical survey work to locate the barrel dumps included collection of side scan sonar data during the summer of 2008 over a period of 12 days. Approximately 116 square miles of the lake bottom were scanned, which resulted in the identification of 909 sonar targets that were considered to be potential barrel locations. Additional surveys were performed with a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) and sector scan sonar at selected locations to confirm the presence of barrels on the lake bottom.

Barrel recovery work was performed over a two-week period from July 31 through August 13, 2012. A total of 25 barrels were recovered from the Talmadge River, Sucker River, and Lester River sites. Barrels from both the Talmadge River and Sucker River sites contained grenade parts in cardboard cases weighted with concrete. Barrels from the Lester River site contained partially incinerated munitions scrap, ash, slag, and production line refuse.

Samples were collected of barrel solid contents and water, as well as barrel-associated sediments. Samples were submitted to an analytical laboratory for analysis of explosive compounds, volatile and semi volatile organic compounds, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), metals, and conventional analytes. Samples of sediment and water form the environment surrounding the dump sites (referred to as dump perimeter samples in this report) were also collected and analyzed for the same analytical parameters as the barrel samples.

Analysis of barrel contents detected PAHs, PCBs, and metals at concentrations that exceed Sediment Quality Targets (SQTs) established by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. This pattern of detections was not replicated in sediment samples collected near the recovered barrels, suggesting that at the sites investigated the barrels are currently containing the contaminants; however, barrel quality observed included a range of conditions: minor rust, surficial corrosion, dents, holes, and severe structural deterioration resulting in failure during retrieval.

Analysis of sediment samples collected along the perimeter of the barrel dump areas detected concentrations of metals higher than observed in the barrel-associated sediment samples. Contaminant concentrations in the samples collected outside of the barrel dump areas were higher than contaminant concentrations observed in barrel sediment samples, raising the possibility that these results represent some systematic error in the sampling or analytical process. These environmental samples, therefore, do not appropriately represent natural background conditions.

Based on these preliminary investigation results, additional recovery and sampling of remaining barrels is recommended given that the cumulative dataset is limited relative to the number of barrels dumped. The presence of the barrels as solid waste in the lake continues to adversely affect the cultural resources and potentially the natural resources of the Red Cliff Band. Remaining barrel contents are still uncharacterized, and the potential exists for inadvertent recovery by the general public. While the barrels are presently containing their contents, they should not be expected to do so in the indefinite future.

Miigwech (Thank You)!

Investigation Report Update

As of August 2015, we received additional funding ($256,465) from the Department of Defense, that will let us continue working on the Investigation Report. We will have this complete document by mid-October of this year. This report will take all analytical data that we acquired during the 2012 barrel retrieval. Which then, we will continue into the Results and Summary Report (February 2016), then onto the Strategic Project Implementation Plan (June 2016).

Public Relations will continue to be a big component of this project. Communities who have a vested interest in the Barrels Project are, Fond Du Lac, Duluth, Two Harbors and Grand Portage. Our PowerPoint presentations are available to any community upon request. Presentations include, but not limited to, barrels history, partnerships, treaty rights, pictures, etc. We will also answer any questions the public may have on the project at the end of each presentation.

I can be reached at, 715-779-3650, or by email, gary.defoejr@redcliff-nsn.gov and I will do my best to answer any other questions there might be.


Gary Defoe Jr.

Community events discussing next steps in the barrels investigation.

Currently, we are having community outreach with different townships along the North Shore. The public events will inform the communities where we are at in the investigation and what steps we are taking moving forward.

Community events are as followed:
November 5- Grand Marais
November 20-Two Harbors Library @6pm
November 24-Duluth Library @ 6pm
December 2- Silver Bay @ 6pm
January 8- Bayfield County Executive Committee @ 4pm

If there is any questions or inquiries, please call Gary Defoe Jr.
Contact info: gary.defoejr@redcliff-nsn.gov
Phone: 715-779-3650

Contractor selected for next steps in project!

On September 25, 2014 at 10:00am, we opened bids that were submitted to us via email and mail.  We would like to congratulate and announce that, Ridolfi Environmental is our selected bidder! Ridolfi Environmental has worked with American Indian tribes and Alaskan Native Villages for over 20 years through environmental assessment and cleanup, natural resource restoration, strategic energy plans and has many other environmental capabilities and experience.

We look forward as we move ahead with Ridolfi Environmental!

Request for Proposal-Lake Superior Barrels Project

Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians

88455 Pike Road

Bayfield, WI 54814

Phone: 715-779-3700 Fax: 715-779-3704

Email: redcliff@redcliff-nsn.gov

“The Hub of the Chippewa Nation”




Tribe: Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa 88455 Pike Road Bayfield WI 54814

Project: Native American Lands Environmental Mitigation “NALEMP” Lake Superior Barrels Project Report Writing & Submittal

Date: August 28 , 2014

To: Qualified Environmental Companies

______________________________________________________________________________ Description and Scope of Work The Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, Environmental Department will be accepting sealed bids for writing of the following documents:

Revised Investigation Report (also known as Remedial Investigation “RI” if following the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act “CERCLA” process): will include the implementation changes recently received by the United States Army Corps of Engineers “USACE” and Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa culturally relevant information into the current draft Investigation Report. Report is based on the results of the Data Evaluation, Human Health and Ecological Risk Assessment, and the Feasibility Study. The Investigative Report will highlight the physical characteristics of the site, general characteristics of the waste (barrels and sediment remaining in place), show determined extent of contamination in terms of area, volume and media. Describe real or potential exposure pathways, involving inhalation and ingestion of contaminants. Lastly, identify and discuss factors encountered that are related to site conditions or remedial alternatives.

Summary Report (also known as Record of Decision “RoD” if following the CERCLA process): will include Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa culturally relevant information, site history, site descriptions, site characteristics, community participation, enforcement activities, past and present activities and other culturally relevant


information as they pertain to the Lake Superior Barrels Project.

until 12:00pm on Wed September 24th, 2014. Bids will be opened and recorded at 10:00am on Thur September 25th, 2014 at the Red Cliff Tribal Administration building, 88455 Pike Road, Bayfield WI 54814.

Native American Lands Environmental Mitigation “NALEMP” Lake Superior Barrels Project Background:

Approximately 1,437 barrels were deposited in Lake Superior by the US Army between 1959 and 1962, along with 400 tons of crates in 1945. It is assumed that these could potentially pose a threat to human health and/or the aquatic ecosystem. The Tribe’s efforts to fully assess these threats are being funded by the U.S. Department of Defense’s NALEMP Program under a cooperative agreement administered by the United States Army Corps of Engineers “USACE”. The funding for the project was first received in 2004 and has been continuous since.

The project is being completed in phases, with the current phase being focused on reporting results of our recent sampling efforts, in which this call for proposals pertains to. During this phase, the 2013 Cooperative Agreement provided funds to support the contracting of the Investigation Report and Summary Report which will include stakeholder meetings and public comment.

As mentioned above, the format of these two deliverables is similar to a Remedial Investigation “RI” and Record of Decision “RoD” as written according to CERCLA. However, they will also contain more information as it pertains to the Tribe such as history of the Tribe and more of a cultural aspect, as well as language regarding potential risks to explosives retrieved but not yet tested.

A more detailed description of the barrels project is available at:


…under the links titled “NALEMP” and/or “Barrels Project.”

Bidding Notes Bids include providing services to the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa as written in the FY 2013 Department of Defense Native American Lands Environmental Mitigation Cooperative Agreement with specific tasks above under description and scope of work. All proposals should include the following: A. Bids must include hourly rates for all staff that will be involved in contracted work and other relative fees. For example, project managers, staff assistants, technicians, travel, materials, subcontractors, copy costs, faxing costs, etc.

B. Bids must include examples of relative materials such as documents written according to

CERCLA or a similar process.

C. All pricing should be valid through September 30th, 2015. D. Provide a detailed proposal including all of the above information. This will be submitted in addition to the bid form provided at the end of this RFP. E. A copy of current certificate of insurance.

Contacts Bidders are encouraged to contact: Red Cliff Environmental Department Gary Defoe Jr., NALEMP Program Manager gary.defoejr@redcliff-nsn.gov

or Melonee Montano, Environmental Programs Manager melonee.montano@redcliff-nsn.gov 715-779-3650 (Office) 715-779-9650 (Fax)

All proposals must be mailed and labeled as follows:

Red Cliff Environmental Department c/o Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Attn: Melonee Montano

88455 Pike Road Bayfield WI 54814

Proposals are to be received by the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa by 12:00pm September 24th, 2014. Bids will be opened and recorded at 10:00am on Thur September 25th, 2014 at the Red Cliff Tribal Administration building, 88455 Pike Road, Bayfield WI 54814.

**Please note that all bids submitted via USPS, Fed Ex, UPS, and hand delivery, are to arrive at 88455 Pike Road Bayfield WI no later than 12:00pm September 24th, 2014. Please plan accordingly to ensure the timely receipt of your bid submittal.**

The Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa reserves the right to reject any and all bids for any reason.

Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Environmental Department Bid FormFirm Name:________________________________________________________

Job/Project: Native American Lands Environmental Mitigation “NALEMP” Lake Superior Barrels Project Report Writing & Submittal *Please use this space to list all relevant hourly rates such as project managers, staff assistants, technicians, travel, materials, subcontractors, copy costs, faxing costs, etc. Type:

Hourly Rate / Unit Rate / etc:

Red Cliff officials vow to pursue sunken barrels issue

This article was written by Rick Olivio, who is a reporter with the Daily Press. Article was published on Friday, August 29th, 2014.

Red Cliff officials vow to pursue sunken barrels issue

As far as the Army Corps of Engineers is concerned, say environmental officials from the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians, the presence of over a thousand 55-gallon barrels filled with materials from the Twin Cities Army Ammunition Plant that were dumped into Lake Superior from 1958 to 1962 is a dead letter issue.

That is something the Red Cliff Band would beg to differ with.

Tribal environmental officials say the Corps has directed, through it’s Program Manager for the Native American Lands Environmental Mitigation Program, (NALEMP) that the project to retrieve and analyze some 70 barrels of the dumped barrels would not follow the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) process mandated by the Environmental Protection Agency.

That action meant that no further testing of barrels or cleanup alternatives were to be accepted or allowed by the Corps.

The removal of the investigation from the CERCLA process mandated by the Environmental Protection Agency has caused considerable unease with tribal environmental officials.

The reason for the Corps taking the investigation out of that process are complex at best, and have much to do with the Byzantine nature of federal bureaucracy. Red Cliff Environmental Director Melonee Montano said Friday she feared that by taking the investigation out of the CERCLA process, the investigation results would be invalidated in any kind of federal court proceedings.

What concerns tribal NALEMP Manager Gary Defoe, Jr. is that materials found in the investigation conducted in 2012 came as a complete surprise to investigators. The barrels were found to have two distinct types of contents, a composite material consisting of three barrels with incinerated metals and 22 barrels containing intact munitions parts, identified as ejection cup assemblies for BLU-4 cluster bombs. The munitions were examined by explosives experts and were found to contain an active ejection charge of M5 propellant, a double-base smokeless powder containing nitroglycerine and nitrocellulose, commonly used in a variety of military munitions. Because the devices were classified as explosive devices, additional permits had to be obtained before they could be moved. This resulted in only 25 barrels being raised instead of the 70 barrels that had been hoped for. Another reason for halting the lifting was the rising cost of disposing of the explosive materials.

Ironically, because the discovery of the bomblet components had not been anticipated, no tests were carried out on the devices. Since no remedial actions were to be considered by the Corps, the remedial report was truncated into two reports, an investigative report and a final results and summary report, said Defoe.

The Investigative report was filed with the Corps in July, while the final results and summary report is due to be completed in mid December.

Montano said the tribe expected comments back on the investigative report from the Army Corps in a week or so.

“After that we will go from there,” said Defoe. “We hope to get more testing done in the future, for the explosives, since that portion of the components for the BLU-4 was never tested, and we would still like to reach our goal of 70 barrels which we did not achieve, due to the amount of M-5 propellant we found on the barge when we pulled up the barrels in 2012.”

Defoe said his investigations of the propellant determined that it was a potential carcinogen.

“If they get into the fish or the little critters on the bottom — we don’t know. That’s why we would like to get it tested.”

Montano said the discovery of the BLU-4 components stunned investigators.

“We were led to believe that they were melted down and everything, that’s why it was such a shock when we removed as many as we did. 22 out of the 25 barrels contained these components.”

One fear that has apparently been put to rest is the question of whether the barrels had any radioactive material — at least in material recovered to date.

“We found none of that in just what we have come across so far, but we can’t say that won’t happen in the future,” said Montano.

Montano said because the tribe was not able to raise the 70 barrels they had originally hoped for, their plan, once the summary report is completed is to apply for additional money to go back and do more retrievals, to get up to the 70 barrel goal.

“Then at least we can have our good sample size,” she said. “And also to be able to test the explosive specifically.

Montano said it has not yet been determined of the ultimate goal would be to remove all of the approximately 1,500 barrels that were dumped into the lake.

“It depends on what we find when we get up to the 70 barrels, what everything shows.”

Montano said only when the tribe has reached a sample size of about 70 barrels would there be enough data available to make a decision as to whether it would be better to raise the barrels or leave them at the bottom of the lake.

Whatever the outcome of those determinations will be, Montano said it was vital to continue the work of studying the barrels remaining at the bottom of the lake.

“That is why we are still moving forward,” she said. “We want to understand fully what the impacts are. To us it’s not closed. The tribe has a different viewpoint. We rely heavily on the lake for fishing. It is within our ceded territory. It is our sustenance and survival. For us, being part of our natural resources it is of high importance to understand the impacts to our members, to others who aren’t even our members, people in general.”