DoJ: Lautenschlager Announces Suit Against Northern States Power Company to Recover Costs of Lake Superior Hazardous Waste Investigation

For Immediate Release

For More Information Contact:
Deirdre A. Morgan 608/266-7876

MADISON-Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager announced today that the Department of Justice has filed a lawsuit against Northern States Power (NSP) Company to recover the approximately $1.4 million the state spent between 1993 and 2003 investigating the hazardous substance contamination in Lake Superior and on the lakefront adjacent to NSP’s Ashland property.

According to the complaint, which was filed at the request of the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), NSP’s predecessors owned and operated a manufactured gas plant on the property for approximately 60 years starting in the 1880s. As a result of those operations, the soil, groundwater, and portions of Lake Superior adjacent to the property are contaminated with coal tar, oils, solvents and other hazardous substances.

NSP signed a consent order in 2003 under which it is investigating the contamination at the site. Prior to 2003, however, much of the investigative work was conducted by DNR, which incurred costs of just over $1.4 million before NSP took over. Under state law, responsible parties are required to reimburse the state for costs it incurs investigating contaminated sites.

“We are filing the suit at this time, although NSP is currently cooperating with DNR and U.S. EPA on the site, because we need to do so to protect the state’s interests.” Lautenschlager said. “We are hopeful that we will be able to reach an agreement with NSP for recovery of the costs the state has incurred at the site.”

The complaint was filed in Ashland County Circuit Court. Assistant Attorney General Shari Eggleson is representing the state.