Toxic Waste Collection, Education and Mapping Project

Great Lakes Restoration

In the fall of 2010, the Northwest Regional Planning Commission (NWRPC) was formally awarded a federal grant through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative to address hazardous waste issues within the Wisconsin and Michigan portions of the Lake Superior Basin. The project focused on efforts to expand the hazardous waste collection, enhancing public education and the creation of a geospatial decision support tool to address mitigation, planning and incident response.

Hazardous Waste Collection

This project expands existing hazardous waste, electronics, and waste oil collection sites to include the four Lake Superior Basin Indian tribes (Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, Keweenaw Bay Indian Community and Lac Vieux Desert Band of Chippewa) along with the three coastal counties of Gogebic, Houghton, and Ontonagon in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Under the grant project, funding and technical assistance were provided to plan and facilitate the implementation of storage areas for properly collecting and storing hazardous waste. NWRPC also provided technical assistance to develop Health and Safety Plans related to operations of hazardous waste, electronic E-waste, and waste oil collection site. Waste collection events were held locally and multiple on-site "milk run" events were held to collect waste from high volume sources including schools, businesses, hospitals or health care centers, and government or municipal centers.

Public Education

Promotional and educational materials were developed and provided to tribes and counties within the project area for use in educating residents about the impact to the environment and Lake Superior that toxins, hazardous waste, E-waste, and other pollutants can have. Educational outputs were designed as "Train-the-Trainer" exercises, to aid to provide each respective hazardous waste collection site with the capacity to educate its local residents, and supply adequate printed material and brochures for distribution and speak at local schools and civic clubs and/or organizations. Three public service announcements were produced for broadcast on Duluth – Superior and Upper Peninsula television networks and a 15-minute video/DVD was created on the effects of hazardous and electronic waste to the Lake Superior watershed basin.

Watch the Video

Geospatial Decision Support

The decision support tool is a web-based Geographic Information Systems (GIS) mapping interface which includes key base features such as contaminant pathways such as culverts and bridges; the local transportation system; soil types; and an inventory of hazardous waste storage sites within the Lake Superior Basin. This tool will help local planners and emergency response personnel in communities across the Basin better prepare for and respond to hazardous materials incidents. View the tool.