Torch Lake was listed on the Superfund National Priorities List in 1984. Superfund is the nickname of the federal Comprehensive Environmental Remediation and Compensation Liability Act (CERCLA), which aims to clean up toxic or environmentally degraded waste sites (the policy does not include nuclear waste). The program was signed into law by President Richard Nixon in 1980 and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is tasked with carrying out the program’s mandates.
The Torch Lake site has three operable units (the term U.S. EPA uses to break a contaminated site into manageable parts). Operable Unit I is the unit that addresses stamp sands, slag piles, and dumped waste drums on the western shore of Torch Lake.
Operable Unit II is the unit that addresses ground and surface water, lakebed sediments, and submerged tailings in the lake. Operable Unit II was delisted in 1994 with no remedial action taken because EPA staff felt at the time that natural attenuation of soil at the site would cover contaminated sediments.
Operable Unit III is the unit that addresses stamp sands and slag piles throughout the Keweenaw Peninsula.
Four emergency cleanup actions have occurred at the Superfund site (2007, 2012, 2017, 2018).
Superfund Site Remedial Project Manager