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News Releases from Region 05

EPA selects $21 million cleanup plan at the St. Regis Superfund site on Leech Lake Reservation

Project removes harmful dioxin contaminated soil

Contact Information: 
Francisco Arcaute (
312-886-7613, 312-898-2042 cell

For Immediate Release No. 20-OPA-024

CASS LAKE, MINN. (April 2, 2019) – Today, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), announced a $21.4 million cleanup plan for operable unit 7 (OU7) of the St. Regis Paper Co. Superfund site, a former wood-processing facility on the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe Reservation. EPA’s cleanup plan removes dioxin-contaminated soil in residential areas while meeting the Leech Lake standard of 10 parts per trillion dioxin in soil.  

“The St. Regis site is receiving immediate and focused attention from the EPA,” said EPA Deputy Administrator Doug Benevento. “We are accelerating Superfund clean-ups at many sites around the country by addressing site-specific delays. The St. Regis case shows how Superfund clean-up and economic redevelopment can go hand in hand. Real progress is being measured in months, not decades.”

“EPA’s St. Regis Record of Decision fulfills Administrator Wheeler’s commitment to responding to high priority Superfund sites on the Administrator’s Emphasis List, expediting cleanup efforts that will allow unrestricted use of residential properties within the St. Regis Site,” said EPA Region 5 Administrator Kurt Thiede.

EPA’s cleanup plan includes removing contaminated soil from affected residential areas within OU7 of the site and replacing it with clean soil and vegetation, then burying most of the removed soil on nearby property owned by BNSF Railroad Co. or International Paper, both potentially responsible parties.

The contaminated soil will be covered with a liner and clean soil and will be monitored to ensure exposure does not occur.

Onsite management of the excavated soil will reduce the short-term impact of increased truck traffic that would be needed if all the contaminated soil was taken offsite.

The 125-acre St. Regis site is located within the boundaries of the Leech Lake Reservation. A wood-treatment facility operated from the 1950s to the 1980s using creosote and pentachlorophenol that contaminated the soil and groundwater. In 1984, EPA placed the site on the National Priorities List, a list of the nation’s most contaminated sites.

For more information about the St. Regis site:

For more information on EPA’s Administrator's Emphasis List: