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Most Cold War barrels pulled from Lake Superior thrown back

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Lake Superior sunrise
Lake Superior sunrise

SUPERIOR, WI (WTAQ) - Officials say there were no high levels of toxic or hazardous chemicals in 25 barrels of old military waste pulled from Lake Superior last summer.

But all but three barrels had thousands of tiny explosive devices. And they were thrown back into Lake Superior, because there was no specialized landfill in the region where they could be buried.

The Red Cliff Indians and the cleanup firm of EMR hope to get a federal waiver this summer to bury the explosives at a dump in the region.

The tribe and the firm presented an update Thursday on their effort to remove 70 barrels of military waste that were dumped into Lake Superior.

They contained top-secret items that were never used – and the Pentagon did not want its enemies to know about those items during the Cold War in the 1950’s and ‘60’s. After explosives were found in the first barrels, they reduced their retrievals to 25 barrels, so there was enough federal funding to clean them up properly.

State officials in Wisconsin and Minnesota were upset because they were not notified that some of the waste was being hauled on their roads. But project leaders said nothing was transported that had to be regulated – and the three barrels they sent to a site on Lake Huron contained only garbage, ash, non-toxic bomb parts, and slag material. 

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