Superior Mayor Jim Paine announced an agreement with Husky Energy refinery to protect Lake Superior during his State of the City speech Monday, April 29.
Soon, Husky’s refinery will tie into Superior’s wastewater treatment facility to add another layer of treatment.
“I’m excited to announce tonight that we have reached an agreement with the Husky oil refinery to end their discharge of water into Newton Creek and begin to discharge into our municipal wastewater treatment system, which will help us protect Lake Superior and bring over $1 million in new revenue to the city of Superior,” Paine said.
Newton Creek flows 1.5 miles from the refinery’s wastewater treatment facility and empties into Superior Bay at Hog Island Inlet. Newton Creek was long impaired from decades of water released by the refinery before its modern wastewater treatment facilities were added. In the 1990s and 2000s, the creek underwent remediation, but problems persist. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources in 2017 said it was investigating “chemicals of concern” in the creek after discovering fish with deformities living there.
Even before last year's fire, city and state officials said the refinery and city were planning the tie-in because the refinery would have faced tougher phosphorus requirements from the state when renewing its permit.
When firefighters doused last year’s asphalt fire at the Husky Energy refinery in Superior with water and foam, the runoff had to go somewhere.
Mostly, the mixture of water, oil and firefighting foam - made up of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS - went into several of the refinery’s large wastewater ponds, where it sat for weeks until equipment that could remove PFAS was installed.
After the fire, Husky installed two systems of granular activated carbon filters, which captures those chemicals before the water enters Newton Creek.