Contact: Sam Brungardt, 651-757-2249
St. Paul, Minn -- The former Northwest Refinery site in New Brighton is a lot less polluted today than it has been for years, thanks to work conducted by Ashland Inc. with oversight by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA).
“Excavation activities and the removal of petroleum-contaminated soil began last November and were completed on Jan. 30,” Jim McCann, MPCA project leader, said. “All the buried piping and refinery equipment and several large concrete structures, including pavement and footings for tanks and process equipment, were removed. And any piping that ran beyond the boundaries of the former refinery site has been plugged.
“We estimate that during the three months of work at the site, more than 40,000 yards of soil were excavated, with approximately 20,000 yards of that being contaminated enough that it was disposed of at a licensed landfill and the balance being retained because it was suitable for reuse on the site.”
The soils that were removed from the site were contaminated with petroleum compounds which can be smelled at very low concentrations. Ashland and its contractor took measures to minimize the generation of dust and odors from the work. Carrying out remediation activities during cold weather, when the odors are not so strong and fewer people are outdoors, helped reduce the nuisance factor, as did using industry standard odor-management techniques, such as tightly covering the contaminated soil before transporting it off site. In addition, the community was notified in advance of the work of the source of possible odors.
In April 2011, Ashland Inc. signed a Compliance Agreement with MPCA and a Natural Resource Damages Settlement Agreement with MPCA and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. The Compliance Agreement included provisions for detailed work plans to remediate the site. The Settlement Agreement required Ashland to pay $100,000 for natural resource damage claims.
“This year, the former Northwest Refinery site is expected to be taken off the Permanent List of Priorities, the list of State Superfund sites in Minnesota,” Steven Schoff, MPCA project manager for the site, said.
Groundwater, which is impacted at the site with petroleum compounds, will be further monitored and assessed by the MPCA. The area is served by municipal water supply and contaminated groundwater has not impacted any drinking water wells.
A fact sheet about remediation of the former Northwest Refinery site is on the MPCA website.
The site of the former Northwest Refinery is part of the city’s New Brighton Exchange redevelopment project.