Brian Elwood is the spokesman for Northern States Power of Wisconsin (NSP). Elwood says dry dredging may pose safety risks to workers cleaning the site. “What you would actually be doing is install small sheet pile walls in little sections and having people work behind those walls,” he said. “Using nationally recognized safety parameters, it's shown that it's not a safe condition for those workers to work in.”
That's according to data from NSP-hired consultants. The utility company would prefer wet dredging near the shoreline. The EPA, however, says that may not meet environmental standards. Scott Hansen is the EPA's remedial project manager. “Because in the dry, you can see it, but, if it's in the wet, it's underwater. As soon as you drop a clam shell bucket and start pulling stuff up, it's just a big mess.”
That may cause higher concentrations of contaminants like coal tar or known cancer-causing compounds to spread into the bay, according to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. The EPA and utility company agreed to do more sampling at the site to examine potential threats to worker safety and environmental health. NSP contractors finished collecting data and more information is expected in the next 60 days. The EPA says it may take several months to analyze results.
The EPA named four parties potentially responsible for cleaning the site, including NSP and the City of Ashland. Work in the bay is estimated to cost $71 million, but the entire Superfund cleanup may run up to $105 million.