Study finds pollution on UMore property, says most can be cleaned up for developmentEarly results of an environmental study show that the University of Minnesota will be able to develop 3,500 acres of land on the eastern part of its UMore Park property, but further testing will be required on a piece-by-piece basis as development proceeds.
By: Emily Zimmer, Rosemount Town Pages
Early results of an environmental study show that the University of Minnesota will be able to develop 3,500 acres of land on the eastern part of its UMore Park property, but further testing will be required on a piece-by-piece basis as development proceeds.
The Rosemount City Council and Planning Commission held a joint meeting Tuesday to hear a presentation on the presence of pollution on the property
The meeting was for information purposes only. Last year Barr Enigineering conducted a remedial investigation to assess soil and groundwater quality in an area that may have been exposed to environmental hazards. The investigation determines pollution risks from historical uses and then does physical testing to confirm. It also evaluates hazards to human health and the environment.
The University of Minnesota hired Barr Engineering to assess the environmental impacts of a smokeless gunpowder plant called Gopher Ordnance Works that once stood on the property and subsequent land uses by the university and its tenants.
The university plans to build a sustainable community on its UMore property that could include up to 30,000 residents.
Environmental planner for the University of Minnesota Janet Dalgleish said investigation results show the land is developable, but that more work is needed.
“We have very good data to go off of. This data is accurate to the best of our ability and will be good for years to come,” said Dalgleish of the investigation.
To begin the investigation, project manager Jim Eidem said, Barr Engineering did a review of historical documentation of the property. They also created a database of all the past information and investigations done on the property.
Based on that study, Barr identified areas of concern and created a plan to test those areas. The areas identified held buildings, disposal sites and other equipment that could have contained contaminants.
The areas were tested with the collection of soil borings, trenches and water samples. The Minnesota Pollution and Control Agency reviewed all work plans and documents associated with the remedial investigation.
Barr found a number of sites of concerns that will need to be addressed. Some of those will be able to be cleaned up for residential purposes, but others will not.
Contaminants found in the various sites included lead, mercury, arsenic, PCBs and PHCs, all of which are consistent with the Gopher Ordnance Works uses.
The council and commissioners asked Eidem a number of questions regarding the results. Most of the questions pertained to whether how cleanup would proceed and whether it was feasible.
Rick Kubler, an attorney for Gray Plant Mooty who has worked with the university on various environmental projects, provided some history on the site for the councilors and commissioners. He also addressed concerns about whether the site is still a Superfund Site. A section of the land was identified by the Environmental Protection Agency as a Superfund Site in the 1980s. The site, which consisted of three electrical transformers, recycling facilities and a university chemical waste disposal area, underwent extensive cleanup in the 1980s and early 90s. Since the cleanup, the site has been administratively closed by the MPCA and EPA. The site was excluded from the investigation.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is responsible for the site and commissioner Vanessa DeMuth asked if the organization had shown any interest in cleaning up the site. She said she’d rather see federal money pay for the mediation.
Kubler said the Army Corps of Engineers recently had its budget cut and was dealing with thousands of sites across the country. He added that they would continue to be part of the conversations and that university hoped that they would aid in the cleanup.
The presentation to the council and planning commission was the first step to inform the public of the results of the investigation. There will be a public hearing held by the MPCA June 28. Details about the event will be updated as they become available.
To view the Remedial Investigation report visit the UMore website at www.umorepark.umn.edu and look under Online Information Repository.