MPCA: Levels of TCE in Spring Park Wells Exceed State Standards

Updated: 07/09/2014 7:35 AM
Created: 07/08/2014 11:04 PM
By: Tim Sherno

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) says levels of a chemical solvent used to clean metal have exceeded new state standards in two of three wells in Spring Park.

The chemical is called trichloroethylene, or TCE. Federal standard is five micrograms per cubic liter, and the MPCA says none of Spring Parks wells have exceeded that limit, but two wells exceed recommended state levels.

Dan Tolsma, Spring Park City Administrator, says the MPCA contacted the city last year.

"They wanted to start talking to us about seeing what we could do about lowering that level," he said. "We're treating it as something that is very serious right now, and that's the way we've been treating it since day one."

One well has no measurable TCE, according to Tolsma.

"We switched over primarily to our clean well, so we're running that 90, 95 percent of the time right now," he said.

Tolsma says the city occasionally has to switch to the contaminated wells to backwash the filtration system, and therefore must install additional water treatment equipment to remove the TCE.

The cost of the new equipment could reach $1 million, a burden to a city with only 350 homes. The MPCA and the city are working on getting Spring Park's water on a super fund list that would make it eligible for state money to help cover the cost.

We know of at least one other Twin Cities metro area where there is a TCE concern. Last year, the state warned people living in the Como Neighborhood of southeast Minneapolis that TCE vapors could be seeping into their basements and into the air they breathe.

A former General Mills facility dumped the chemical there decades ago.

Back in May, the MPCA found 123 homes and buildings had levels above what it considers safe. The company says it’s paying for a ventilation system for affected homes.

Minneapolis/St. Paul

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