Between 1958 and 1962, some 1,500 or so 55-gallon barrels were dumped into Lake Superior by the Department of Defense in three locations roughly 4 miles east of Duluth. For years, there has been much controversy and speculation regarding the safety of the barrels and their contents. The Department of Defense believes they are filled with concrete and scrap munitions. Others, including environmentalists and specifically, the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, suggest there could be some more dangerous contents that might include radioactive material. For the current work, the Department of Defense is paying the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa about $2.2 million to recover the barrels as part of a federal program to clean up dump sites near or on reservation lands.The tug Champion and barge Kokosing are being used for the work. They were in Duluth in late July and early August, leaving Duluth on August 2nd to begin work.
They will try to bring up and/or test about 70 barrels from a variety of places where the barrels are located to provide a range of possibilities of what the contents of all the barrels might contain. It is potentially hazardous work and the Coast Guard has set up a safety zone around the rig, 700 feet in all directions. The work may take as long as 2 weeks. Pictures here were taken by Dan Rau on July 31, 2012 in Two Harbors.