EPA Asks Court for the Right to Remove Arsenic From Minneapolis Residential Lots

Last week, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) filed a lawsuit seeking access to three residential properties located within the South Minneapolis Residential Soil Contamination Superfund Site. The complaint, filed in the District of Minnesota, asks that the court grant the EPA access to the parcels to clean up arsenic contamination caused by the historic manufacture of herbicides and pesticides at a nearby chemical manufacturing plant.

According to the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) complaint, the Superfund Site encompasses 1,480 acres, which is located in the area surrounding a former CMC Heartland property, including all residential homes within a three-quarter-mile radius. Reportedly, arsenic was used to manufacture herbicides and pesticides at the property over a 25-year period until at least 1963. The area, including the three properties at issue, suffered arsenic contamination primarily through wind dispersion as a result, the EPA explains.

Allegedly, starting in May 2004, the EPA, its contractors, and the Minnesota Department of Agriculture began sampling Superfund Site residential properties to evaluate levels of arsenic contamination. The agency subsequently conducted remediation projects to excavate and remove soils tainted with arsenic.

Now, the EPA seeks to finish its work at the Superfund Site. The filing explains that the EPA has been unable to obtain consent from the property owners whose yards, according to soil samples, indeed contain arsenic. In turn, the agency seeks access to remediate both the properties’ front and back yards, including excavating the contaminated soil and replacing it with clean soil, conducting confirmatory soil sampling, and later, maintaining the grass and landscaping.