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“We would have to look at what we could do as far as any potential enforcement action under Superfund law,” Krueger said. “Right now, we want to try and work cooperatively and voluntarily with both parties to move ahead.”
Some cleanup done
The plant operated for nine months and never went into full production because of the war’s end. A few years later, the government deeded the land to the university. The area of UMore containing the ruins is not currently used. The rest of the park is used for agricultural research and farming by tenants.
MPCA says the university also contributed to some contamination, and the university doesn’t deny that. But officials say they have cleaned up most of it and want the U.S. government to clean up its portion of the pollution.
The university rented land to tenants who used it for industrial purposes, and the university had a burn pit where chemicals were burned. Donohue says that pollution came to everyone’s attention in the 1980s through the Superfund law. The university discovered contaminants it was responsible for and in 1994, after securing funding from the state, the university cleaned up the land and it was taken off the Superfund national priority list in 2001, Donohue said.
The MPCA does not know what percentage of the land was contaminated by which party, but wants both to figure it out and take action, Krueger said. “They’re related to both, from operations when the Gopher Ordnance operated and also from when the university has owned the property,” he said.
The Corps says it is willing to meet with the university and the MPCA to discuss any claims against the Army. Donohue says the university recently invited the Corps to come to Minneapolis to discuss solutions, but the Corps declined.
In its last report, the university said it needs more information to come up with a plan to clean up the pollution.
“It kind of goes back to what the proposed land use is going to be,” Krueger said. “And that will dictate how or what type of cleanup is done.”
Liala Helal • 952-746-3286