Cass Lake | Leech Lake - EPA Superfund Hearing on July 30

Have Your Voice Heard... for Future Generations 


The EPA's preferred 'Proposed Remedy,' isn't a remedy for our People. It is a proposal that does not clean the mess. The EPA would rather cut corners of $11.5 Million from a $40 Million budget to put another pile of soil onto a contaminated pile of poison. The EPA rather save money than saving lives. This is not cleaning a mess by proposing to leave it in Cass Lake. EPA needs to remove the contaminated soil and send it to a secure landfill, and clean the mess once and for all.

50-years is enough!

EPA yet again ignores tribal standards for clean-up in their newest cleanup plan St. Regis Paper Co. Superfund Site Leech Lake Reservation–Cass Lake, Minnesota. 

Tribal members of Cass Lake and the Leech Lake oppose any storage of contaminated soils within the boundaries of the St. Regis Superfund Site or within the boundaries of the Leech Lake Reservation.


It is essential after 50-years the EPA needs to enforce cleaning this mess and stop poisoning our land, and people.

It is essential that the EPA hear from tribal people about the importance of cleaning up this toxic site and restoring the health of our sacred lands. Public participation and public pressure is necessary to ensure they do the job right. You do not need to be an expert or say anything fancy - just come and show support and tell them it is long past time to clean up this mess!

St. Regis Superfund Site History (click here to view more and timeline maps)

From 1957 to 1985 the St. Regis paper company operated a wood processing facility in Cass Lake. They used diesel fuel, pentachlorophenol (PCP), and creosotes to treat wood for things like telephone poles. Diesel fuel contains polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and PCP contains dioxins. So, while these were not the primary chemicals used to treat the wood they were present in the chemical mixture.

As a result of the activities at this site, Hazardous substances have been released to the environment.

Decreased Budgets

While the EPA has included the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe as a partner and support agency in the cleanup of the St Regis site they have routinely reduced the budget in the SACA grant that funds the Leech Lake investigation into the site. They cut most of the budget from the part of the grant that allows the program to engage with lawyers and technical consultants. This means that while the EPA says Leech Lake is a partner they are actively crippling the program that could help the Band understand the extent of contamination at and around the site as well as the Band’s ability to pursue legal action against the company that released these toxins into the environment. The EPA chooses instead to rely on the data provided by the company.

This is what the EPA Proposed Remedies: (click here to view more and timeline maps)

The EPA is proposing multiple options for the cleanup of the residential part of the site called OU7 as well as the EPA preferred remedy. The OU7 proposed cleanup for the soils is open for a 60 day public comment period beginning 6/17/19.

Option "S13"

One option is to remove the contaminated soil from the properties marked in blue. Other properties with contamination would be covered with clean soil. This means that no one will be able to move the soil on these properties without risking exposure. No one will be able to dig footings for a foundation or plant a garden. The EPA refers to this option as S13.

Option "S15B"

Another option would be to remove any contaminated soil and keep it in a storage facility somewhere in OU1. Storage facilities are similar to the vault that we already have but do NOT have any barriers keeping the contaminated soil separate from the soil below it. This type of facility is only meant as a temporary storage method. This means that in the future the soil will have to be dug up again and removed. The EPA calls this option S15B.

Option "S15A"

The final option is to remove the contaminated soil and send it to a secure landfill. This will cost more; however, the costs will be covered by International Paper the company responsible for the contamination. The EPA calls this option S15A.

EPA Preference

The EPA prefers the S15B option where soil would be stored on the Reservation which is well not acceptable by the 10ppt of tribal band standards. However, they cannot proceed without the approval of the Tribal Council, the Chairperson, and the community. This is unacceptable so need to action!

Read about the proposed plan 

EPA Proposes Cleanup Plan for Contaminated Soil (PDF)


Show support for the Tribal Standard lead the nation in clean up.

EPA officials will hold a public hearing to accept comments on the proposed cleanup plan. A court reporter will record all public comments.

Tuesday, July 30 at 6:00 p.m., 

Cass Lake-Bena Elementary School, 

15 Fourth St. NW, Cass Lake. 


You can contact Benjamin Benoit, Environmental Protection Department at [email protected].



Regarding the St. Regis Superfund Site in Cass lake Minnesota

We the Citizens of the Cass Lake Community and the Leech Lake Reservation to herby indicate with our signature below that we oppose any storage of contaminated soils within the boundaries of the St. Regis Superfund Site or within the boundaries of the Leech Lake Reservation.



Leech Lake Residents Weigh In On Proposed EPA Cleanup in 2016. Still need to clean the mess.


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in consultation with the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, is proposing a plan to clean up soil contamination in the residential areas at the St. Regis Paper Co. site on the Leech Lake Reservation. EPA is interested in your comments on the proposed cleanup plan for these residential areas referred to as “operable unit” 7, or OU7of the St. Regis Paper Co. site. The comment period runs from June 17 through August 15, 2019. Send your comments to EPA Community Involvement Coordinator Heriberto León before midnight, August 15, 2019.

Share your opinions EPA encourages you to comment on this proposed cleanup plan. The Agency will only select a final cleanup plan after reviewing comments received during the public comment period, which runs from June 17 – August 15, 2019. There are several ways to submit written comments: 

EPA contact information 

Heriberto León 

Community Involvement Coordinator 


[email protected] 

Leslie Patterson 

Remedial Project Manager 


[email protected] 

EPA Region 5 toll-free 


8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., weekdays 

July 30, 2019 at 6:00pm - 9pm
Cass Lake-Bena Elementary School
15 Fourth St NW
Cass Lake, MN 56633
Google map and directions
Benjamin Benoit · · (218) 335-7400
Christa Drake

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Christa Drake

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