First Report: Lake Superior Barrels Not A Threat


The first lab report is in from the recovery of some Department of Defense barrels dumped into Lake Superior during the Cold War. Preliminary information says the barrels are not a threat.

The report says: “Preliminary data results show no immediate cause for concern regarding the safety of water and fish consumption.” Frank Koehn is a spokesman for the Red Cliff Tribe which raised the barrels. “There’s nothing on the table that gives us any reason to believe there’s anything to be concerned about right now. When we get the test results back and find out what’s there then maybe that changes.”

So Koehn says questions remain. They raised only 25 of the 1,400-plus barrels dumped by the Department of Defense into Lake Superior near Duluth between 1958 and 1962. Red Cliff had hoped to raise 70 for a more scientifically accurate assessment. Will more barrels be raised? “Until we have all of the facts in, I can’t answer that.”

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Although no radiation or harmful chemicals have been discovered so far, this three-page release says ground-up cluster bomb devices were found in the barrels. Koehn says that was one reason they raised only 25 barrels: to err on the side of safety.”If it was explosive at one time, is it still explosive? Well, that’s what we’ve got to find out. And so far, there isn’t any evidence to say that the explosive materials are a problem.”

Koehn says more testing will be done by an independent laboratory before final conclusions are made. “No one’s going to duck or hide or anything else from any of the findings, because we want to know what is the best way to deal with the barrels. And right now, there is just speculation.”

Veolia of Neenah spent two weeks in August removing the barrels for Red Cliff. Funding for this six year effort has reached $3.3 million from the Department of Defense.

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