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July 09 2006 19:00

2004 Mercury Spill in Rosemount Will Cost Real Estate Developer $410,000

Media contact: Sam Brungardt, (651) 282-6410 Settlement project manager: Joe Henderson, (651) 297-8496 Spill response coordinator: Hans Neve, (651) 296-7715 Rosemount spokesman: Gary Kalstabakken, (651) 423-4491 ST. PAUL, Minn. - Under an agreement with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA), the city of Rosemount and Dakota County, the owners and operators of Contractor Property Developers Co., Roseville, Minn., have agreed to pay a $10,000 civil penalty for alleged hazardous waste violations at the former Brockway Glass factory property, located at 13500 Robert Trail S. in Rosemount. In addition, the agreement requires Contractor Property Developers Co. to pay a total of $375,000 to the MPCA, Dakota County and Rosemount as reimbursement for expenses incurred after juveniles stole mercury from a garage at the former glass factory and then spilled it at the nearby Rosemount Woods manufactured home park. Contractor Property Developers Co. will also donate $25,000 to Rosemount for environmental improvements near Rosemount Woods. The improvements may include the purchase or renovation of city parkland, the planting of native trees or other native vegetation on public property, or improvements to wildlife habitat. The agreement closes a chapter in what was Minnesota's largest recorded mercury spill. In July 2004, Contractor Property Developers Co. entered into a contract with Rosemount's Port Authority to redevelop the former Brockway Glass property. The development company bought the property from Cue Properties LLC, and began, with the help of contractors, to prepare the buildings on the property for demolition. In the process, two jars of liquid mercury were moved into a garage on the property. On Sept. 6, 2004, two juveniles broke into the garage and stole the mercury. They took it to Rosemount Woods, where they played with it, in the process contaminating children and property and exposing residents of the manufactured home park to spilled mercury. The MPCA and local units of government responded to the incident, and the MPCA declared that the mercury release constituted an emergency under state law. As a result of the incident, 49 people, including 18 children, were contaminated with mercury. Thanks to quick actions of a parent and police officer who recognized the problem, none of those exposed was found to have immediate, lingering or permanent injuries or health issues. Many outdoor areas at Rosemount Woods as well as 14 of the 179 homes that were evaluated for possible contamination had to be decontaminated. Thirty-eight residents of the manufactured home park were temporarily sheltered in hotels, and three vehicles were declared total losses because of mercury contamination. Altogether, the MPCA, city and county claimed that responding to the mercury release at Rosemount Woods cost them $525,074. Contractor Property Developers Co. has since removed all hazardous wastes from the former Brockway Glass property and demolished all the structures on the property. "Children are tempted to play with mercury because it has fascinating physical properties," said Hans Neve, who coordinated the MPCA's response to the mercury spill at Rosemount Woods. "Because many people who are now adults were allowed to play with mercury when they were children, the hazard mercury can present is widely misunderstood. Inside a building, a very small amount of mercury will evaporate over a long period, creating a lot of colorless and odorless mercury vapor. Long-term exposure to this vapor can damage one's health. Children, whose neurosystems are still developing, are particularly at risk." Neve added that anyone who finds spilled mercury and needs advice or help cleaning it up should call the Minnesota Duty Officer at (651) 649-5451 or (800) 422-0798.

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