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Report: Great Lakes cleanup lagging badly

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St. Louis River
The St. Louis River spills from the Thomsom Dam west of Duluth on its way to Lake Superior. The river's watershed is one of 31 locations that are the focus of an ongoing EPA cleanup.
MPR File photo/Bob Kelleher

A federal report says the government is moving so slowly to clean up the most polluted sites in the Great Lakes that it will take 77 more years to finish the job at the current pace.

       The inspector general's office with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released the report this week.

       It deals with 31 so-called "areas of concern," which are river bottoms, harbors and other spots where sediments are heavily contaminated with toxic chemicals. One of those areas is where the St. Louis River empties into Duluth harbor. 

The report estimates it will cost more than $2 billion to finish the cleanup.

       It calls on EPA to establish a plan with clear lines of authority and accountability for each site.

       The report says the agency has agreed to develop a limited management plan but hasn't gone far enough.