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County gives feedback on suggested cleanup of 3M's Woodbury disposal site

The Washington County Board of Commissioners voted Aug. 19 to approve a series of comments on the latest plans for 3M to remediate one of its perfluorochemical (PFC) disposal sites along the Woodbury-Cottage Grove border.

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) held a public meeting last month in Woodbury where it revealed its proposed remediation action for site. Per an agreement 3M signed with the MPCA, the Maplewood-based corporation will be responsible for cleaning up the site, which is located between Woodbury Drive and Cottage Grove Drive and south of Dale Road in Woodbury. Some of the proposed remediation methods include institutional controls, and carbon filtration treatment of water affected by the site before it is piped to the 3M's Cottage Grove plant and then discharged into the Mississippi River. The MPCA recommendations also include excavation of the contaminated soil on the site and disposal of the soil at a containment company site in Rosemount.

The county board approved a statement to the MPCA on behalf of the county that generally approves of the proposed remediation, but encourages 3M to take some additional steps related to conservation of the contaminated water once it has been treated.

"The county strongly encourages the beneficial use of treated water once contaminants have been removed," according to the statement issued by the board. "Beneficial uses may include potable community or non-community public water supplies and/or agricultural industrial, commercial or residential irrigation."

The county said it also supports injection or infiltration of the treated water as a potential alternative to provide recharge to local groundwater aquifers. The statement also encourages further exploration of the above options for the treated water not being utilized at the 3M Cottage Grove facility.

The county statements will be submitted to the MPCA during the public comment period on the proposed remediation recommendations. The MPCA is expected to make a final decision on the remediation methods in September. 3M could begin to act on the recommendations as soon as December.

Upon the county board unanimous vote to approve the statements, commission chair Dennis Hegberg said he has been pleased with 3M's cooperation with the MPCA since the discovery of the PFCs in the pump-out system at the Woodbury disposal site in 2005.

"3M has stepped up and continues to step up and take care of the issue and I want to thank them for their corporate responsibility," Hegberg said.

County commissioner Myra Peterson wasn't so thankful, as she commented that the company hasn't done enough to address issues of PFC contamination in Cottage Grove groundwater.

"I would thank them a lot more if it was done in Cottage Grove a lot more rapidly," Peterson said in response to Hegberg's comment.