Dakota County briefs: 25-gallon diesel spill prompts two-day cleanup on Vermillion River

  • Updated: March 31, 2012 - 12:05 AM

Officials estimate that less than 25 gallons of diesel fuel flowed from an auto salvage yard through Farmington sewers into the Vermillion River about March 21, but the spill led to a two-day cleanup.

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, which led the cleanup effort, found no dead fish or other river damage within a mile and a half of the spill, at which point the diesel sheen on the water broke up, said agency spokesman Sam Brungardt. He said no fish kills were reported on the river, which is known for its brown trout.

An ongoing investigation could result in fines against the responsible party. Or the responsible party may just have to reimburse cleanup costs to the city and the agency, which hired Bay West to handle the job, Brungardt said.

Fire Marshal John Powers said the salvage yard is owned by Cole Empey. A reporter's calls to numbers listed for Empey were not answered.

Powers said the two-day cleanup, assisted by Farmington and Hastings firefighters, involved laying absorbent booms around the sewer outfall and vacuuming diesel fuel floating on the river surface.

Brungardt said about 20 gallons of the diesel fuel was found in a catch basin where rain had washed it about 20 feet from the auto salvage yard. The fuel in the catch basin was flushed by firehoses through the sewer about two blocks to the river, where it was removed by vacuums and booms.

Powers said Empey has an outdoor storage permit from the city, but a large number of cars had been moved to his yard.

The spill was discovered by a city parks employee working in Rambling River Park when he smelled the fuel and saw a sheen on the river.

WEST ST. PAUL

Sports dome costs still under study

Next month, West St. Paul is scheduled to call for competitive bids to build the city a proposed sports dome next to City Hall. Estimated cost of the dome project is $6 million.

City Council members have not taken a final vote on whether to build a permanent inflated dome for soccer, but they have hired architects to design it and a program director to lease space in the facility.

Council members have been waiting for the construction bids and to get final information on expected lease revenue before making a final decision.

Estimates of what the dome could cost city taxpayers were presented to the City Council last week by Finance Director Sandy Christensen. Stressing that the estimates are still preliminary and likely to change, she estimated the annual revenue of the dome at $500,000 and annual operating expenses at $310,000, with annual debt payments between $385,000 and $430,000. That would leave costs of about $200,000 a year for taxpayers to pick up.

Because the program director's goal is to secure $600,000 a year in leases, Council Member Jim Englin, the chief proponent of the dome, said it is too soon to jump to conclusions about a taxpayer subsidy.

WEST ST. PAUL

Recycling events planned this month

West St. Paul is hosting two community recycling events in April.

A curbside appliance pickup is scheduled for 8 a.m.-noon April 23. To schedule a pickup, call J.R.'s Advanced Recyclers at 651-454-9215 by noon on April 20. The cost is $15 for the pickup and $8 per appliance recycled.

A city-sponsored shredding event is set for 9 a.m.-noon on April 21 in the City Hall parking lot at 1616 Humboldt Av. For more information, call 651-552-4144.

EAGAN

Council OKs healthy living resolution

People trying to be healthy in Eagan, know this -- the city supports you.

The City Council adopted a Healthy Eating Active Living resolution on March 21 at the urging of the Twin Cities Obesity Prevention Coalition. That effort, led by the Twin Cities Medical Society and funded by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, aims to fight chronic disease and illness caused by unhealthy eating, physical inactivity and tobacco use.

The resolution is mostly ceremonial, not calling for any specific task or project, but is meant to be a guide for the city in ways to support people and projects working on better public health.

In passing it, the city said it would continue to support existing healthy eating and active living programs, as well as look for new ways to provide healthy foods to residents and encourage city employee wellness.

Eagan is the first city in the state to pass the resolution.

DAKOTA COUNTY

'Mrs. Murphy' author at library on April 10

Meet the author of the Mrs. Murphy Mystery series about a crime-solving feline at the Galaxie Library in Apple Valley on April 10.

Rita Mae Brown will visit the library at 14955 Galaxie Av. from 7-8 p.m. to talk about her books and career. She has written 20 books in the mystery series and chronicled her passion for horses, hounds and American fox hunting in fiction and nonfiction.

The free presentation is part of Club Book, a program through the Metropolitan Library Services Agency paid for by the Legacy Amendment Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.

For more information, go to www.daktoacounty.us/library or call 651-450-2918.

LAURIE BLAKE, JIM ADAMS AND Katie Humphrey

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