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Beltrami County Board discusses oil spill site

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news Bemidji, 56619
Bemidji Minnesota P.O. Box 455 56619

BEMIDJI - Beltrami County is entering the fourth year of a five-year agreement promoting continued maintenance and research at the Enbridge crude oil spill site north of Solway.

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Beltrami County entered into the collaborative agreement in 2008 with the U.S. Geological Survey, Enbridge Energy Limited Partnership and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency to maintain the National Crude Oil Spill Fate and Natural Attenuation Research Site.

"In balancing the work that has been done at the Bemidji site, the insight that has been gained, the change in the regulatory community and the change in how remediation (oil cleanup) happens at sites where it is appropriate to leave dirty dirt in the ground, I think we are still way ahead of the game in terms of what has been learned from the investment," said Melinda Erickson, a groundwater specialist and site manager, at Tuesday's Beltrami County Board meeting.

The oil spill occurred when a pipeline broke in 1979, releasing 10,500 barrels of crude oil over the land. About 25 percent of the oil remained in the unsaturated zone near the water table and now exists in three phases:

E Separate fluid phase.

E Dissolved petroleum in the ground water.

E Vapors in the unsaturated zone.

Research teams from across the country use the site to research the effects of the oil on the land in terms of the soil itself as well as the depletion of the oil. The research is funded by the collaborative. Approximately $30,000 was awarded to fund the research in 2011, with more than $77,000 in matching funds.

Erickson said another research team is set to come during the 2012 field session, June 12-22, and she hopes support can move forward beyond the five-year collaborative.

The USGS and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency will host a symposium, "Decades of Science," on June 11 featuring information from the Bemidji research site. The symposium will be held at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, followed by a site tour in Bemidji on June 12, showing some of the research that has been done.

The county board's regular meeting was cut short, as a recommendation to terminate the current contract with Beltrami County Public Health at the Beltrami County Jail was postponed. Sheriff Phil Hodapp said he wants to delay the recommendation to the June 5 meeting to allow for local health-care providers to bid on providing services.

BEMIDJI - Beltrami County is entering the fourth year of a five-year agreement promoting continued maintenance and research at the Enbridge crude oil spill site north of Solway.

Beltrami County entered into the collaborative agreement in 2008 with the U.S. Geological Survey, Enbridge Energy Limited Partnership and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency to maintain the National Crude Oil Spill Fate and Natural Attenuation Research Site.

"In balancing the work that has been done at the Bemidji site, the insight that has been gained, the change in the regulatory community and the change in how remediation (oil cleanup) happens at sites where it is appropriate to leave dirty dirt in the ground, I think we are still way ahead of the game in terms of what has been learned from the investment," said Melinda Erickson, a groundwater specialist and site manager, at Tuesday's Beltrami County Board meeting.

The oil spill occurred when a pipeline broke in 1979, releasing 10,500 barrels of crude oil over the land. About 25 percent of the oil remained in the unsaturated zone near the water table and now exists in three phases:

- Separate fluid phase.

- Dissolved petroleum in the ground water.

- Vapors in the unsaturated zone.

Research teams from across the country use the site to research the effects of the oil on the land in terms of the soil itself as well as the depletion of the oil. The research is funded by the collaborative. Approximately $30,000 was awarded to fund the research in 2011, with more than $77,000 in matching funds.

Erickson said another research team is set to come during the 2012 field session, June 12-22, and she hopes support can move forward beyond the five-year collaborative.

The USGS and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency will host a symposium, "Decades of Science," on June 11 featuring information from the Bemidji research site. The symposium will be held at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, followed by a site tour in Bemidji on June 12, showing some of the research that has been done.

The county board's regular meeting was cut short, as a recommendation to terminate the current contract with Beltrami County Public Health at the Beltrami County Jail was postponed. Sheriff Phil Hodapp said he wants to delay the recommendation to the June 5 meeting to allow for local health-care providers to bid on providing services.

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