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EPA Completes Cleanup of Over 600 South Minneapolis Homes Ahead of Schedule

Release Date: 06/05/2012
Contact Information: Francisco Arcaute Cell 312-898-2042 arcaute.francisco@epa.gov

Chicago (June 5, 2012) -- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Regional Administrator Susan Hedman today announced that the Agency has finished its cleanup of contaminated soil in a South Minneapolis neighborhood a full year ahead of schedule. Hedman was joined by officials from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture and the city of Minneapolis at an event today for neighborhood residents at the East Phillips Community Center.

The EPA used $20 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding, along with other funds, to clean up more than 600 properties. EPA removed more than 50,000 tons of arsenic-contaminated soil, filled the yards with clean soil and replanted plants and grass. The entire cost of the Superfund cleanup was $28 million.

“EPA is pleased that the people of South Minneapolis can now enjoy their yards safely and without fear of their children being exposed to arsenic," said Hedman. “The infusion of Recovery Act funding allowed EPA to make more yards safe for homeowners, renters and residents of all ages."

EPA began its Superfund cleanup in 2004 and stepped up the process in 2009 when ARRA funding was provided.

“Making Minneapolis a safe place to call home is one of our most important jobs, and that includes making sure the environment we live in is a safe place for kids, families, and everyone,” said Mayor R.T. Rybak. “A cleanup like this is no small project, which is why we’re grateful for the EPA’s long-term partnership and commitment to this cleanup, as well as to the assistance from the Obama Administration’s Recovery Act. Minneapolis is a safer place to live thanks to this important work.”

“Working together, we completed a massive cleanup and we got it right for the residents of the neighborhood,” said MDA Commissioner Dave Fredrickson. “I want to thank everyone who made it happen, especially the residents and community leaders for their patience and assistance.”

The South Minneapolis Superfund site encompasses several neighborhoods near 2016 28th St. E., the location of the former CMC Heartland Partners Lite Yard, where a pesticide containing arsenic was produced. Contaminated material from an
open-air conveyor belt railcar-unloading and product-mixing operation is believed to have been wind-blown into surrounding neighborhoods. Long-term exposure to arsenic has been linked to cancer.

Reflecting the area’s diverse makeup, EPA printed fact sheets in Spanish, Hmong, Vietnamese, and Somali as well as English, and deployed bilingual staff and translators to the neighborhood. Residents – who paid nothing for the cleanup – were able to continue living in their homes throughout the project. Removing contamination also enhances the resale value of these properties.

EPA’s Superfund program managed the cleanup. The federal Superfund program was created in 1980 to clean up uncontrolled hazardous waste sites that pose unacceptable risks to human health and the environment.

For more information on the South Minneapolis Residential Soil Contamination Superfund site, see
www.epa.gov/region5/sites/cmcheartland.