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, 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:
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


“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

or Melonee Montano, Environmental Programs Manager 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.”

Barrel Over-pack Retrieval of September 2013 Update

For Immediate Release: January 21st, 2014
Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa
Lake Superior Barrels Project
Barrel Over-pack Retrieval of September 2013
For further information please contact:
Gary Defoe Jr. at 715-779-3650 or
Red Cliff Tribal NALEMP Manager
Frank Koehn at 218-341-8822 or
Red Cliff Tribal NALEMP Public Relations
Melonee Montano at 715-779-3650 or
Red Cliff Tribal Environmental Programs Manager

Since the mid- 1990’s the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa has been researching and conducting investigations on approximately 1,437, 55-gallon barrels dumped into Lake Superior by the US Army between 1959 and 1962, with the assistance of our contractor EMR, Inc. It has been and will continue to be the mission of the Red Cliff Band to fully characterize the type and extent of Department of Defense (DoD) wastes, which may have potential impacts on the economy, natural resources, and cultural uses within Chippewa Ceded Territory and to determine if further remedial work is required to preserve the rich natural resources of Lake Superior.
The Native American Lands Environmental Mitigation Program (NALEMP) was established in 1993 to address tribal concerns in DoD environmental cleanup programs. Since 1993 Congress has inserted a provision in the DoD Appropriations Act requiring the DoD to devote funds annually to mitigate environmental impacts to Indian lands. The Red Cliff NALEMP Committee is committed to the restoration and protection of natural resources within the Ceded Territory, and dedicated to working with federal agencies to clean up, restore, and protect the ecosystems of the Ceded Territory. We are also committed to ensuring that the US Government follows through with their Federal Trust Responsibilities associated with the lands and waters within the Ceded Territory. Our goal is to allow for the full use and enjoyment of these protected resources and fragile ecological conditions necessary to support these unique communities, without restriction due to contamination.
The Lake Superior Barrels Project is known as being both unique and groundbreaking for a number of reasons, two of which include the following:
• This is the first NALEMP project located within Ceded Territory in which the Lake Superior Chippewa Bands maintain Treaty Rights.
• This is the first project to be located within such a large body of water that is part of a vast transportation system. Lake Superior is one of five Great Lakes, which is the largest fresh surface water system on Earth.
The road to researching and investigating the Lake Superior Barrels Project has been long and extremely challenging. Throughout the years; progress on this project has been hampered by the requirements of multiple agencies, collaboration between these agencies, seasonal variations and challenging weather conditions on Lake Superior, attempts to coordinate field activities with each agency, and unexpected regulatory challenges. The following is a summary of the most recent efforts undertaken.
Between July 30 and August 13, 2012, a total of 25 barrels were recovered from the waters of Lake Superior. The barrels were found to contain two distinct types of contents: a composite material consisting of incinerated metals, and intact munitions parts. Three of the recovered barrels contained the former, while 22 were found to contain the hazardous munitions parts. All of the munitions parts recovered from these 22 were identified as ejection cup assemblies for BLU-4 cluster bomb devises. Explosives experts on site conducted tests on the ejection cup assemblies and identified an active ejection charge composed of M5 propellant. Each of the 22 barrels contained between 600 and 700 ejection cup assemblies. The Department of Transportation (DOT) classified these ejection cup assemblies as explosive devices. As a result, additional permits were required before the ejection cup assemblies could be transported.
Until additional permits could be obtained, the ejection cup assemblies recovered in 2012 were securely placed in (6) sealed 85 gallon over-pack barrels, loaded into steel baskets, marked for future retrieval, and carefully placed back down to the bottom of Lake Superior. Efforts to meet the requirements and secure the proper permits to remove barrels took the entire following winter and spring of 2013. The logistical challenges of paperwork, forms, government furloughs, coordinating multiple federal agencies, and securing the barge and equipment were time consuming and expensive. The Red Cliff Tribe and Tribal NALEMP Committee all worked with the U.S. Army Environmental Command (USAEC), the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), DoD, Minnesota Department of Transportation (MN DOT), Minnesota Pollution Control (MPCA) agencies, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Coast Guard (USCG), as well as the Tribe’s contractor EMR Inc., and subcontractor Veolia to resolve these issues and to ensure the retrieval was conducted in a safe and environmentally responsible manner.
In September of 2013, the non-hazardous materials recovered in August of 2012 (barrel remnants, concrete, and incinerated materials) which had been stored at Durocher Marine in Cheboygan, Michigan, were then transported by truck for disposal to the Veolia Environmental facility located in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin. Meanwhile, the six over-pack barrels containing the explosives which had been placed back in the water for wet storage last summer, was also retrieved from the lakebed. The contents of these over-packs were transferred into lined salvage barrels which included the ejector cups and all water contained within the barrel. The barge then returned to the Duluth Timber Company dock, which had been established as a secure staging area for transferring the barrels from the barge to a waiting transport truck. Lastly, the barrels were loaded on to a truck for transport to the Veolia Environmental disposal facility located in Sauget, Illinois.
The NALEMP Committee is now reviewing the drafts of the Human Health Risk Assessment (HHRA) and Screening Level Ecological Risk Assessment (SLERA), along with the draft Feasibility Study (FS) prepared by EMR. Once the various Investigation Reports (formerly Remedial Investigations) are finalized, the Final Results & Summary Report (formerly Record of Decision) will be prepared, with plans to be finalized in August of 2014. Concerns about the future degradation of remaining barrels, the need for testing a greater number of barrels, and safety will be addressed. Additionally, the NALEMP Committee and Red Cliff Tribe remains committed to continuing with the Barrel Recovery project as necessary and intend to continue to focus on protection of the sacred waters of Lake Superior.

Lake Superior Barrels Project in the News

This blog post is in response to recent stories in the media regarding the Lake Superior Barrels Project and regulatory compliance. Red Cliff would like to assure the public that regulatory compliance is a major component of this project. The project involves multiple agencies and regulatory requirements and compliance efforts are ongoing. Federal and State agencies have been privy to this project for several years and consultation with regulatory agencies such as the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, and the Environmental Protection Agency began in 2010. Red Cliff has and will continue to ensure that the Lake Superior Barrels project is in compliance with all applicable regulations.

As always, Red Cliff would like to thank the public for their interest and support. Red Cliff is dedicated to ensuring that the beauty of Lake Superior and the quality of the water and fish are maintained for the future generations of all those who make this place our home.