- 71 Sites of Concern (SOCs) were tested with 39 of those being above the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s (MPCA) acceptable levels for residential use;
- Levels of mercury are 200 times the acceptable limit;
- Nitrate-nitrogen levels are above regulatory criteria;
- Arsenic, lead, petroleum byproducts (PAH), and toxic PCBs are all above the limits;
- An EPA superfund site where the University has dumped tens of thousands of gallons of laboratory chemicals and medical waste was not tested;
- Trace cannon powder was found at 29 of the locations.
The Gopher Ordnance Works was closed in 1945 after less than one year of production and the US War Department transferred 8,000 acres of property to the University of Minnesota in 1947-48. The University used almost 300 of those still-standing buildings for research involving medical, agricultural, and aeronautical applications. Testing of sub-surface contaminants by the US Army and the University of Minnesota has been ongoing since 1981. In 1984, the MPCA reported that there was no contamination of concern.
UMore Park has published a concept master plan that identifies qualities for the site including 13,000 houses, a thousand acres of open space, and an eco-friendly industrial park integrated into a mixed-use community. The forty-year process began mid-2012 at a heated community meeting where questions were raised about the impacts of the sub-surface deposits. Additionally, a gravel-mining operation is also just beginning, which will disturb local residents for the next twenty years.
While brownfield remediation is an emerging practice, is it possible that an eco-friendly community can emerge from such a polluted site?
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