On-Land Cleanup of Ashland Superfund Site Could Be Finished Next Year


There is an agreement to clean up one of the Great Lakes’ hottest spots. Northern States Power Company will pay for the $40 million on-land cleanup on Ashland’s waterfront.

Cleanup costs come to about $1 million an acre for the 40 acres of land. After more than a decade of studies and reports, the work on this former railroad, lumber and coal gasification site could start this year and be finished by the end of next.

Northern States Power is a subsidiary of Xcel Energy. Spokesman Brian Elwood says they will use thermo-absorption, lots of heat, to clean and recycle the contaminated soil. “It’s a pretty unique site. The site is actually comprised of a lot of fill material. Because of lumbering operations, there’s a lot of waste wood that actually fill in that area. There are some other unique geologic features in that area, including aquifers and things of that nature, so coming to an agreement on what’s best way to remediate the site to make it safe, the environment be protected and cost effective as well.”

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Ashland Mayor Bill Whalen says they have got plenty of plans. “Can you think what we could have done with this waterfront if we’d have had this all cleaned up by now? And how many millions less it would have been to clean up?”

This is just half of the Superfund site cleanup. The other half is off shore in Lake Superior’s Chequamegon Bay. That is expected to cost another $40 million. The city of Ashland may be on the hook for part of that, but Whalen says they are contesting it. “Yes, they’re rate payers for their gas and enter the same as our taxpayers. So, we certainly want to do all we can to protect our taxpayers’ interests so they’re not paying double for the cleanup.”

The city would like to develop the land with recreational and perhaps limited housing.