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Open houses on Reilly Tar and Chemical site environmental investigation in St. Louis Park, Minn., March 3

Release Date: 02/24/2011
Contact Information: (U.S. EPA) Jayna Legg, 312-353-0562, legg.jayna@epa.gov (MPCA) Becky Helgesen, 651-757-2421, becky.helgesen@state.mn.us (St. Louis Park) Jamie Zwilling, 952-924-2632

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
No. 11-OPA017

(CHICAGO - Feb. 24, 2011) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, the Minnesota Department of Health and the city of St. Louis Park will hold two open houses Thursday, March 3, to answer questions about upcoming vapor intrusion testing near the Reilly Tar & Chemical Superfund site. The open houses will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m. at the St. Louis Park Public Library, 3240 Library Lane.

In late March or early April, EPA will offer free air sampling air in about 30 homes and apartment buildings in an area bounded by 32nd Street West to the north, Highway 7 to the south, Louisiana Avenue to the east and Pennsylvania Avenue to the west. The sampling area is part of the 80-acre Reilly Tar & Chemical Corp. site, which was used for coal tar distillation and wood preserving from 1917 to 1972. It was sold to St. Louis Park and converted to residential and recreational uses in 1972.

Air samples will be analyzed for the presence of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, better known as PAHs, which have been detected in the ground water and soil under the site. Breathing low levels of PAHs for long periods of time may increase some people's risk of health problems.

The project will involve "sub-slab" sampling under basements and slabs to test for gases that may be collecting beneath building foundations. Vapor intrusion occurs when chemicals in the underground water give off potentially hazardous gases that can rise up through the soil and seep into buildings through foundation cracks and holes.

The Reilly Tar site was added to EPA's Superfund National Priority List in 1983. Since then, numerous actions have been taken at and around the site to ensure safe drinking water, including cleaning and closing existing wells and construction of new wells. The vapor intrusion testing is part of a required post-cleanup review of the site by EPA and MPCA and does not involve drinking water.

In 2008, EPA and state and local partners addressed an unrelated vapor intrusion site in St. Louis Park involving about 250 properties in a neighborhood to the east of the current testing area.

More information on the site can be found online at http://www.epa.gov/region5/sites/reillytarmn/. People who need special accommodations at the open houses should contact Community Involvement Coordinator Heriberto Leon, 800-621-8431, Ext. 66163, 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. weekdays, or via e-mail leon.heriberto@epa.gov.