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Former Bemidji industrial site named to pollution control list

BEMIDJI -- A former industrial site in Bemidji has been proposed to be named a Superfund site by the state in order to access funds for environmental mitigation.

Nine Minnesota sites have been recommended to be named Superfund sites, including the former Cedar Services Inc. site in Bemidji, according to a press release from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.

The site, proposed by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, is contaminated with pentachlorophenol (PCP), a wood treatment and agricultural chemical, according to the press release. The Department of Agriculture is the lead state agency regulatory authority for agricultural chemicals.

The July 25, 1969, issue of the Pioneer reported that work in the Industrial Park was preparing to for the then-incoming Cedar Services, a “Minneapolis based firm which treats cedar poles and then sends them out to the East (Coast) where they are used for dock and moor pilings.” The 35-acre site was to include a spur track and an office building and employ up to 50 people.

According to the MPCA press release, PCP was used to treat wooden poles at the site from 1971 to 1980. In 1997 and 1999, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency completed emergency removal actions at the site, including soil excavations and tank and sludge removal. Investigations indicated that significant PCP contamination persists in groundwater, and the contamination is migrating off site, posing a threat to a food production as well.

Corrective actions, including groundwater remediation and possible soil corrective measures, are needed to address the contamination, according to the MPCA.

Since there is no known viable responsible party, the MDA proposes to add the site to the state Superfund list to access funds for corrective actions.

The Bemidji site joins eight other industrial sites recommended to be added as Superfund sites. The others are in Willmar, Virginia, Ely, Rochester, Dundas, Isle, Minneapolis and a site in Washington County.

The MPCA also proposed to remove the Basset Creek/Irving Avenue Dump site in Minneapolis off the Superfund site list because it no longer poses a threat to human health or the environment under its current use as the city of Minneapolis’ vehicle impound lot.