Contact: Anne Moore, 218-302-6605
Duluth, Minn. -- The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency will conduct a three-day pilot test at a downtown Esko Superfund site to determine whether a chemical-injection technique can effectively clean up contaminated soil and groundwater.
The site was formerly a creamery, a coin-operated dry cleaners and an engine repair shop. It is now the Esko School District parking lot and is adjacent to the Esko Post Office at 10 West Highway 61.
Beginning June 14, agency contractors will test a cleanup technology to find out whether dry cleaning solvent-contaminated groundwater can be easily converted to non-harmful components. Local residents are not expected to notice any difference in their water supply.
Wells already identified as affected by the pollutant will be tested throughout the process. The resulting groundwater monitoring data will determine the pilot test’s effectiveness and whether additional injections of this, another chemical, or no additional injections are necessary. This technique has proven successful in other Minnesota locations.
During the pilot test, MPCA contractors will inject a purple compound called sodium permanganate into soil and groundwater. The compound is expected to convert the solvent into non-harmful components by oxidizing it through a chemical reaction.
In preparation for the test, the MPCA obtained a required variance from the Minnesota Department of Health, which controls drinking water standards, and notified nearby property owners and other interested parties including city, school and postal officials.
During an investigation of a possible petroleum leak at the Esko Self Serve gasoline station in 1996, the MPCA discovered tetrachloroethylene, also called “PCE,”across Highway 61 in the Esko Post Office well.
PCE is a chemical commonly used in dry cleaning and is suspected to cause cancer in humans. Since that time, the MPCA conducted a site investigation and decided to test the effectiveness of the injection technology on cleaning up solvent-contaminated groundwater. The site was added to the state Superfund list in 2006.