The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

April 22, 2014

Auto Parts site cleanup may be $600,000 BILL

Dirt Merchant Inc. seeking state grant to get PCBs, other pollutants removed

MANKATO — An investigation into expected pollution at a former auto salvage yard just north of Mankato showed high levels of PCBs and other chemicals related to petroleum products, and more than $600,000 will be required to clean up and contain the pollutants.

Dirt Merchant Inc., a local earth-moving company, is planning to redevelop the site of the former Brad's Auto Parts on Third Avenue just outside Mankato city limits — probably as a home base for the growing business.

But while DMI crews have had already cleared much of the visible junk left behind after the auto salvage yard closed with the 2008 death of Brad VanGuilder, DMI is looking for state assistance to deal with the pollutants that have seeped into the soil.

"There is a fair amount of material that has to be hauled off," said Bryan Bode, a partner in DMI along with Kevin Depuydt.

In fact, a consultant estimates that 850 cubic yards of soil needs to be excavated because of high levels of polyaromatic hydrocarbans, a group of chemicals often associated with coal, oil and gas, and something that is "reasonably anticipated" to be cancer-causing in humans, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Another 1,750 cubic yards needs to be removed because of PCB contamination.

PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) were common in electrical transformers, hydraulic fluid and fluorescent lights until their manufacture was banned in the United States in 1977. They, too, are "reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen," according to the CDC.

For laymen, 2,600 cubic yards of material might not mean much. For the owner of Dirt Merchant, it's immediately clear that there's a lot of dirt to be moved by specially licensed waste haulers to disposal sites in the Twin Cities or Wisconsin.

"A semi-load is roughly 15 to 16 cubic yards," Bode said.

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