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Deal reached to clean Superfund site

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Northern States Power-Wisconsin, has reached agreement with the federal and state governments on how to clean up part of a Superfund site in Ashland.

Northern States Power-Wisconsin is a division of Xcel Energy and will spend $40 million to clean up the 40-acre site on the Chequamegon Bay, which was used for several industrial activities and is contaminated with benzene and other organic compounds.

NSP took responsibility for the site when it acquired a small utility there.

The clean-up will take at least a year and will include digging up and treating contaminated soils,"  NSP's David Donovan said.

"Then we can use that material, once we burn it essentially, and put it back in the site and help us refill the site," Donovan said.

He said remaining contamination will be contained and monitored, with an impervious surface and a barrier between land and water.

"We'll have to monitor that over the next several decades probably," Donovan said. "We will have methods to treat it to try and reduce the contamination; but we will also remove a lot of the concentrated contamination, what'll be left is less dense contamination, stuff that we can't get by digging it up."

NSP and the federal government are still negotiating over how to clean up the bay.

Much of the contamination is left after decades of industrial activities in the early 1900s.

NSP can recover the cost from its gas customers, but Donovan says the company will also try to get other responsible industries to pay a share.