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

(Continued)

So that's more than 160 semi-loads to be hauled away from the former Brad's site. The second part of the project — putting a 4-foot cap of clean soil on portions of the nearly five-acre site to contain the more widespread but lower levels of pollutants — is work DMI can do itself.

The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development agreed to pay 75 percent of the cost of the $40,000 pollution investigation last November, and DMI is hoping the agency will provide a grant to cover the same percentage of the $629,700 projected clean-up cost.

First, the Blue Earth County Board will be asked today to be the local government sponsor of the application, a requirement for the DEED Contamination Cleanup and Investigation Grant Program. The board's approval doesn't obligate the county to provide any funding for the project, said Jessica Beyer, the county's communications manager and business analyst.

"It's no (local) taxpayer dollars," Beyer said. "... It's simply us acting as a fiscal agent."

Based on the board's strong support of the investigation grant last fall, Bode expects approval from the commissioners.

"They're all for us getting that site cleaned up," he said.

As for what DEED will do, Bode said it probably depends on how much competition there is — particularly from other outstate projects.

"I'd say there's a 50-50 chance on getting this," he said. "It just depends on how many people are applying."

The grant application, prepared by consultant Braun Intertec, emphasizes the lingering problems with the former salvage yard and the economic potential of the site if DMI's development occurs.

"The existing site is an eye-sore for the area," the application to DEED states. "... With the clean-up of the site and redevelopment, potential neighbors would no longer be subjected to overflow of the salvage operations, the potential contamination associated with the scrap operation including petroleum and metals ... ."

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