Superfunded: Lower Entry declared multi-level hazmat site

Graham Jaehnig/Daily Mining Gazette Containment booms surround leaking petroleum from the sunken Katherine while a recovery barge and the tug Jean C. raise the Dawn Tuesday in the Lower Entry.

CHASSELL TOWNSHIP — The pier at the Lower Entry of the Keweenaw Waterway has been listed, at least for now, as a Federal superfund site. Jeromy Kowell of the United States Coast Guard Station’s Marine Safety Unit from Duluth, said in addition to raising the fishing boat Dawn from the entry floor Tuesday, there is additional work to be done to clean up the area along the 2,000-foot-long concrete pier within the harbor of refuge.

“We’ve got three federalized projects,” Kowell said. “One is the boat Dawn, which sank on April 1st of this year. The second is another fishing vessel, Katherine, which sank in December 2016, and the third is hazardous material in addition to oil and similar petroleum products being released by the two vessels.

Kowell said during inspection of both vessels, they discovered hazardous material on the floor of the lake, removal of which has already begun. Divers discovered hazmat materials, including loose batteries, dumped tires and “other miscellaneous materials.”

“We federalized the Dawn first,” Kowell said, “and then when we were conducting cleanup operations, removing oil and hydraulic oil off of the vessel, we noticed that the Katherine was sheening (leaking fluids such as fuel and oil), so we federalized that and removed product that we could off of that one.”

The cost of remediation of the hazmat materials, Kowell said, will be paid through EPA CERCLA (Environmental Protection Agency Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act) funding, which Kowell said was opened specifically for hazardous materials.

Graham Jaehnig/Daily Mining Gazette It took about two hours Tuesday for the Dawn to emerge from the bottom of a Lower Entry docking area.

“Both vessels are OSLTF (Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund),” Kowell said. “OS (Oil Spill) Field Response funding, for the EPA comes from Coast Guard funding, and any hazmat response funding comes through the EPA, so we use each other’s fundings.”