Barrel Recovery Fieldwork Begins!


Fieldwork to recover and sample the contents of 70 barrels from Lake Superior began on Monday, July 30, 2012. Our operations will be visible from shore. Please keep in mind that a safety zone has been established for our operations. Please respect this zone for your safety and the safety of those performing the work. We will continue to post updates as the fieldwork progresses.


Barrel Recovery in the News

In recent weeks, a number of articles about the Barrel Recovery Project have been posted by on-line news sources. Most of these articles are fairly presented, but a few contain information that is misleading or incorrect. Most concerning to the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa are insinuations that the tribe is ignoring potential barrel dumpsites under pressure of federal agencies. This insinuation is not only false, but contrary to our culture and values. For countless generations, the Chippewa people have depended on Lake Superior for resources. The Lake is central to our beliefs and the Red Cliff Band believes that the protection of this sacred body of water is our responsibility, not just for the sake of the Tribe, but for all people who have the privilege of living near Lake Superior and for future generations.

Under the Native American Lands Environmental Mitigation Program (NALEMP), the Red Cliff Band is attempting to evaluate the barrels and their contents to determine if they pose a risk to human health or the environment through defendable scientific methodology. The Department of Defense and the Unites States Army Corps of Engineers are valuable partners in this effort. These agencies are providing assistance to Red Cliff as needed, but do not have any influence over our scientific evaluation or decision-making processes.

During the 1990s, several small investigations of the barrel dumpsites took place. Although these investigations were valuable, they left an incomplete picture of the extent of dumpsites. In 2008, extensive side-scan sonar and sector scan surveys were conducted by the Red Cliff Band to identify the barrel dumpsites and to distinguish barrel dumpsites from non-barrel related debris. These surveys resulted in the regrouping and renaming of several barrel dumpsites. Also, some sites that were previously thought to be barrels sites were determined to be non-barrel related debris. The purpose of this phase of the project was to identify each and every barrel to the greatest extent possible. No identified barrel dumpsites were excluded from the study as that would be counter-productive to what the project team is trying to accomplish.

The primary goal of the Lake Superior Barrels Project is to protect the health of Lake Superior. Red Cliff Band members deeply value Lake Superior, and are happy to know that many others do as well. We appreciate the public’s ongoing interest in this project and we encourage you to continue to visit this blog and to share it with others. We will continue to post updates as the project progresses, and look forward the successful completion of the recovery effort!

Background Sampling Complete!

Red Cliff successfully completed the backgound sampling phase of the Lake Superior Barrels project in June 2012. This work involved collecting 12 sediment samples and 9 water samples from outside the barrel dump sites. The samples were sent to an independent laboratory (Spectrum Analytical in Tampa, FL), and the results will be verified by a third-party for quality control.

The background sampling data will be used as a baseline and compared to the  sediment and water samples collected near the barrels. The background data will help project scientists determine what contaminants found in the sediment and water by the barrels actually came from the barrels versus contaminants that may have originated from other sources such as land or other dumping activities.