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Warren R. Muir Reserve Mining Case papers

Identifier: U6199

Scope and Contents

Contains records related to Dr. Warren R. Muir’s work with the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) on an assessment of the Reserve Mining Company’s discharging taconite tailings into Lake Superior. The collection includes research files, reports, court proceedings, and other materials. For Muir’s description of the collection, “see “Additional Description – Other Finding Aids.”


  • Creation: 1973-1976


Conditions Governing Access

Open for use in the Kathryn A. Martin Library, Archives and Special Collections.

Conditions Governing Use

This collection may be protected by the Copyright Law of the United States (Title 17, U.S. Code). It is the user's responsibility to verify copyright ownership and to obtain all necessary permissions prior to the reproduction, publication, or other use of any portion of these materials. Researchers may quote from the collection under the fair use provision of the copyright law.

Biographical / Historical

In 1973, asbestos-like fibers were found in Lake Superior water, which was used as the source of drinking water by Duluth, MN. The source of the fibers was traced to taconite tailings being disposed in the lake by the Reserve Mining Company in Silver Bay, Minnesota. Taconite is a low-grade iron ore. The taconite was being mined on The Iron Range, well inland, and shipped by train to the plant on the shore of the lake. In Silver Bay, the Reserve Mining Company would crush the rock-like taconite in a stream of water, use magnets to extract the iron from the resulting slurry. The concentrated iron was shipped to smelters around the country and the slurry was discharged, untreated, into Lake Superior. It turned out that the crushed taconite in the discharged slurry included large quantities of asbestos-like mineral fibers.

When the fibers were associated with the discharge of the Reserve Mining Company in Silver Bay, MN, U.S. House Representative John Blatnik called President Nixon to request he designate a high-level coordinator of Federal efforts assessing and responding to the situation, including the release of information. The President, via Melvin Laird (Counsellor to the President for Domestic Affairs), responded on June 22, 1973, by designating Russell E. Train, Chairman of the Council on Environmental Quality in the Executive Office of the President, to be the Federal Coordinator. Dr. William R. Muir was asked to staff the response on behalf of the CEQ Chairman. His background was a Ph.D. chemist and the staff member dealing with environmental health issues at the Council.

(Biographical/Historical Note adapted from Dr. Muir’s description of the collection, available in “Additional Description – Other Finding Aids”.)


3 boxes

Language of Materials



The collection includes research files, reports, court proceedings, and other materials.

Physical Location

This collection is located at the University of Minnesota Duluth Archives. For more information about this collection or to make an appointment, contact us at or 218-726-8526.

Processing Information

This collection is not fully processed.

S. Aue
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Collecting Area Details

Contact The University of Minnesota Duluth Archives and Special Collections Collecting Area

Kathryn A. Martin Library
University of Minnesota Duluth
416 Library Drive
Duluth MN 55812-3001
(218) 726-8526