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Twin Cities bus garage leaked fuel into ground, the question is: How much?

Buses wait to go out on their routes at the MJ Ruter Metro Transit Garage in Brooklyn Center, Wednesday, Aug. 1. Fuel pumps in the garage may have leaked diesel into the soil for years. ( Scott Takushi / Pioneer Press)

BROOKLYN CENTER, Minn.—The fuel system at a Metro Transit bus garage that serves dozens of routes across the Twin Cities may have leaked diesel into the soil for years — prompting a county investigation and state oversight as contractors attempt to gauge the size of the spill.

The ground in and around the Martin J. Ruter garage in Brooklyn Center, which sits 400 feet from the city's largest green space, Palmer Lake Park, is now being analyzed for contamination by a contractor hired by Metro Transit.

"The leak happened beneath the foundation of the building, so they're not really sure how much leaked. It sounded like it had been going on for some period of time," said Minnesota Pollution Control Agency spokesman Walker Smith.

Contractors will soon check with surrounding home owners to see if there are any private wells that may have been affected. The city is on a municipal water system that would be unaffected, Smith said.

The contractor, Minneapolis-based Braun Intertec, took several soil borings in and around the building earlier this year; Metro Transit officials reported the leak of a fuel pump to pollution control in February 2017. But state officials said this week that the contractor will now do additional borings along the property's perimeter.

"What they found is serious enough that they decided to look at a larger area," said Mike Risse, who supervises the commercial hazardous waste unit of Hennepin County's Department of Environmental Services.

Risse said he's confident there is no longer any danger of additional spills from the pumps. The challenge now is to find out how much diesel spilled, and for how long.

"The threat (of more leaks) isn't there anymore. ... That's been addressed," Risse said, adding that currently he was looking into "whether an enforcement case is warranted, whether any laws were broken."

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