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Hazardous substances pose significant risks to human health, the environment, and businesses. Spilled chemicals, petroleum, and other substances can contaminate soils and groundwater, making land unusable and drinking water unsafe. Groundwater contaminated with certain types of chemicals can also produce vapors that affect nearby homes and businesses.

Thousands of large hazardous-substance spills and disposal of hazardous substances in the ground and water prior to modern environmental regulations has created many sites for clean up in Minnesota.

The MPCA investigates sites where hazardous substances have been or could be released to identify risks and appropriate remediation plans.

The MPCA offers technical guidance and funding assistance to real estate redevelopment professionals, environmental engineers, and remediation consultants:

Find contaminated sites in Minnesota

What's in my neighborhood — Search for known contaminated properties by location, type of contamination, or project/business name. You'll find both sites currently being investigated and cleaned up and those where remediation is complete.

Groundwater Contamination Atlas — Find in-depth information about sites with groundwater contamination, including site histories and investigation and cleanup activities.

Leaking and registered tanks sites — Find locations of reported petroleum tank spills and releases in Minnesota.

Petroleum Remediation Program maps — See petroleum sites in relation to wellhead protection areas, drinking water supply management areas, and source water assessments.

Land clean up

The MPCA prioritizes clean up for sites that pose the highest risks to the environment and human health. When contamination occurs or is identified, the agency directs and oversees the cleanup work:

Assessing sites – Identifying harm to soil, groundwater, or other natural resources and measuring its extent; identifying human health risks

Designing corrective measures – Outlining cleanup alternatives and making recommendations.

Implementing corrective measures – Executing the cleanup plan

Depending on the type of site and the source of contamination, the cleanup process may also include:

  • Placing the site on the state Superfund list (called the Permanent List of Priorities) and possibly referring it to the U.S. EPA for the federal list
  • Identifying responsible parties and informing them of cleanup requirements for the site
  • Seeking compensation from responsible parties for the cost of the cleanup

The MPCA may close a site when further investigation, monitoring, or corrective action is not necessary to protect human health or the environment, even if some contamination remains. Site closure also means that MPCA's regulatory oversight of the spill or leak ends. Sites can be reopened if new information arises. For information about a closed site, search What's in my Neighborhood or submit an information request.

Harmful Substance Compensation Program

The Harmful Substance Compensation Program (HSCP) compensates people who suffer certain kinds of injury or property damage from exposure to harmful substances in Minnesota. The HSCP was established to provide an administrative alternative to filing lawsuits against the person or company responsible for the damage. Decisions on compensation are made by the MPCA Commissioner, who receives advice as necessary from experts, including physicians, health professionals, and staff from the state Attorney General’s office.