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Minnesota Power penalized for Island Lake erosion

Minnesota Power has agreed to pay $53,000 for a state park restoration project, after being cited in a construction erosion violation in Island Lake north of Duluth in 2012.

The Duluth-based utility will contribute $53,000 to improvements at an overlook in Jay Cooke State Park in lieu of paying a penalty for the violations, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency recently reported.

The contribution was about double what the penalty would have been, the PCA noted.

According to the state’s report, Minnesota Power allowed Twin Ports Excavating to conduct excavation work near the utility’s boat launch as part of a development project.  PCA inspectors on June 13, 2012 found work on the Island Lake site was taking place without a proper state permit and without taking the proper precautions to keep sediment from flowing into the reservoir lake. Minnesota Power staff was instructed to stop construction work until a permit was obtained and controls were put into place to reduce erosion and sediment runoff.

Nearly a week later, a citizen made a complaint that included photos of sediment-laden water flowing from the site into the reservoir. The PCA inspector returned to the site and found additional stormwater violations related to lack of sediment controls on the construction site. The inspector again produced a list of required actions that had to be taken before construction could resume.

Site conditions did not improve until July 25, however, when Minnesota Power notified the PCA that construction activities had been stopped. On July 26, Minnesota Power applied for the required permit. All of the required corrective actions were made by September 12, 2012.