Shredded aluminum cans washing onto a section of Park Point Beach have caused the city of Duluth to urge caution in the area.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is coordinating the cleanup effort as weather conditions allow. The cans are showing up between the shipping canal, on the lakeside, and 13th Street South.
The cans are believed to have been inadvertently deposited when dredge materials were placed on the far north beach this fall, a city of Duluth news release said Friday.
Dredge material was placed on the beach after the Park Point Community Club and neighborhood residents sought a solution to shoreline erosion concerns exacerbated by high Lake Superior water levels. The Army Corps said it placed 49,000 cubic yards of "beneficial use" dredge material on Minnesota Point late last summer.
The debris likely resulted from dredge equipment encountering an area containing trash discarded in the harbor in the 1970s, based on aluminum can vintage. About 27,000 cubic yards of material is believed to contain cans, a separate Army Corps news release said.
"Corps of Engineers officials take the situation very seriously and are developing a plan to mitigate the likelihood of encountering debris or placing debris fragments in the future."
The city will continue to inform the public on cleanup efforts, said Jim Filby-Williams, director of parks, properties and libraries.
"Shoreline erosion and high-water levels have led to a complex situation that required a great deal of planning and creative solutions," he said in a statement.
The Park Point Community Club said it was "encouraged" by the way the Army Corps has taken ownership of what it called an "unfortunate situation."
The shredded cans were first noticed by residents last October. Since then, community club members have been volunteering to aid the Army Corps in returning the beach to safe condition.
"Our efforts will continue as long as the cans and shards continue to surface on the beach and wash up on the shoreline," said Dawn Buck, community club president, adding that the club takes great pride in its stewardship of Lake Superior.
In 2019, the Army Corps placed 53,000 cubic yards of dredge material on the south end of Minnesota Point to minimize erosion and protect old-growth trees, the Army Corps said. The city requested additional material to help restore the north end's eroded beach and dune habitat.