Officials from Minnesota and Wisconsin are celebrating a milestone in the effort to clean up the St. Louis River.
The estuary, where the river flows into Lake Superior near Duluth, was placed on a list of the most polluted spots on the Great Lakes in 1987.
Now the agency has lifted the first of nine environmental "impairments," the degradation of the river's aesthetics, said EPA Regional Administrator Susan Hedman.
"We no longer see floating oil, we no longer see floating grain dust, we no longer tar residue which was the norm in this area of concern for many years," she said.
About $350 million has been spent cleaning up the river so far. Officials say another $150 to $200 million is needed to finish the job by 2018.
The EPA designated 43 Great Lakes Areas of Concern in 1987. Since then, only one has been removed from the list.
But the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative has jump started the cleanup around the region, Hedman said.
She believes half the areas of concern could be cleaned up by 2018.
"The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative has made all the difference," she said.