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Board allows 3M access to Lake Elmo Park reserve to monitor PFCs

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The Washington County Board voted at its Aug. 19 meeting to grant 3M access to the Lake Elmo Park Reserve so it can continue to measure perfluorochemical (PFC) concentrations in local ground water.

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The agreement established between Washington County and 3M will allow the company access to Lake Elmo Park Reserve, just south of Eagle Point Lake, so it can install a monitoring well that detects PFCs in the Jordan aquifer.

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) requested 3M install the monitoring well to periodically test for PFCs in the ground water it believes may have been affected by neighboring areas that 3M once used for disposal sites for chemical waste.

According county program manager Amanda Strommer, one of those areas is the Oakdale dump that the MPCA believes may have brought discharged chemicals into Eagle Point Lake and then into the Jordan Aquifer, via Raleigh Creek, which flows near the dump.

"We really don't have a good idea of what is happening as the contamination moves down through the aquifer layers down in to the Jordan," Strommer told the county board.

The new monitoring well will help the MPCA investigate further the movement of PFCs.

The Minnesota Department of Health found low levels of PFCs in the area's drinking water beginning in 2004. Filtration systems were installed in Oakdale's drinking water treatment plants following the discovery and the company reached an agreement with the MPCA earlier this year to remediate its Oakdale disposal site.

During the board's discussion on the topic, Washington County Commissioner Bill Pulkrabek asked about the size of and scope of the well, which will be installed just north of the neighboring Whistling Valley subdivision in Lake Elmo.

Strommer said the 3M agreed to minimize the impact on the park and nearby residential area,

"(The well) is either going to be an open boring that is sealed, or about a foot off the ground," Strommer said. "It's not a large area."

The term of the access agreement between the county and 3M is to Dec. 31, 2010 and may be extended by written agreement by all parties, a county report stated.

County gives feedback on suggested cleanup of 3M's Woodbury disposal site

The board also voted Aug. 19 to approve a series of comments on the latest plans for 3M to remediate one of its PFC disposal sites along the Woodbury-Cottage Grove border.

The MPCA held a public meeting last month in Woodbury where it revealed its proposed remediation action for site. Per an agreement 3M signed with the MPCA, the Maplewood-based corporation will be responsible for cleaning up the site, which is located between Woodbury Drive and Cottage Grove Drive and south of Dale Road in Woodbury. Some of the proposed remediation methods include institutional controls, and carbon filtration treatment of water affected by the site before it is piped to the 3M Cottage Grove plant and then discharged into the Mississippi River. The MPCA recommendations also include excavation of the contaminated soil on the site and disposal of the soil at a containment company site in Rosemount.

The county board approved a statement to the MPCA on behalf of the county that generally approves of the proposed remediation, but encourages 3M to take some additional steps related to conservation of the contaminated water once it has been treated.

"The county strongly encourages the beneficial use of treated water once contaminants have been removed," according to the statement issued by the board. "Beneficial uses may include potable community or non-community public water supplies and/or agricultural industrial, commercial or residential irrigation."

The county said it also supports injection or infiltration of the treated water as a potential alternative to provide recharge to local groundwater aquifers. The statement also encourages further exploration of the above options for the treated water not being utilized at the 3M Cottage Grove facility.

The county statements will be submitted to the MPCA during the public comment period on the proposed remediation recommendations. The MPCA is expected to make a final decision on the remediation methods in September. 3M could begin to act on the recommendations as soon as December.

Upon the county board's unanimous vote to approve the statements, commission chair Dennis Hegberg said he has been pleased with 3M's cooperation with the MPCA since the discovery of the PFCs in the pump-out system at the Woodbury disposal site in 2005.

"3M has stepped up and continues to step up and take care of the issue and I want to thank them for their corporate responsibility," Hegberg said.

County commissioner Myra Peterson wasn't so thankful, as she commented that the company hasn't done enough to address issues of PFC contamination in Cottage Grove groundwater.

"I would thank them a lot more if it was done in Cottage Grove a lot more rapidly," Peterson said in response to Hegberg's comment.

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