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Bigham asks for air monitoring during 3M site cleanup

Rep. Karla Bigham asked state pollution control officials at a meeting Friday to monitor the air when work starts to excavate large volumes of perfluorochemical-contaminated soil and sediment from the 3M Cottage Grove site.

Work there could start by the end of the year, said Kathy Sather, director of remediation for the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.

An air-sampling station would measure the chemicals in the air before work begins, and then continue to do so while the work is underway so that officials can monitor any changes, said Paul Hoff, supervisor of the Environmental Analysis and Outcomes Division at the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.

The air-sampling station is currently proposed as part of the project to excavate contaminated dirt from the former Washington County Landfill in Lake Elmo and place it in a new triple-lined landfill on the site.

Bigham said she wants a station to be part of the requirements in the remediation plan for the 3M Cottage Grove site. Minnesota Pollution Control Agency officials expect to hold a public meeting on possible plans to clean up the site May 27, and then select a plan by July.

The Friday, May 1 meeting of the East Metro PFC Oversight Working Group brought together officials from the Minnesota Department of Health, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and east metro legislators who represent areas affected by perfluorochemical contamination.

At the meeting, Bigham also questioned what officials were doing about the Langdon area of Cottage Grove, where tests have shown the presence of perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorobutanoic acid (PFBA) in residents' well water.

Sather said the state Pollution Control Agency has been trying to get an access agreement with Up North Plastics to further study the issue, and they planned to send another letter out to the company Friday, the day of the meeting.

"We have had significant difficulties getting access at Up North," said Michael Kanner, Superfund manager for the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. Kanner said the latest letter to the company would be more "strongly worded" than past attempts.

A representative from Up North Plastics could not be immediately reached for comment.

Langdon residents were among those who had the opportunity to have the amount of perfluorochemicals in their bodies tested as part of a biomonitoring study run by the state health department.

Jean Johnson, environmental epidemiologist and program director for the Minnesota Department of Health, said the department expects to have the results of that study available to the public in July.

The study tested 98 adults total in Lake Elmo and Cottage Grove who use private wells.