MPCA details cleanup plan for former Superior Plating site

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December 13, 2013
By: Ben Johnson
A map detailing the pollution cleanup effort at Superior Plating
Ben Johnson

The former Superior Plating building at 315 1st Ave. NE is scheduled to be knocked down and hauled away to an industrial landfill in January or February 2014.

After the building is removed crews will excavate all of the soil beneath the building down to the bedrock. The soil will be removed in 150 cubic yard segments, treated with a neutralizing agent and hauled to an industrial landfill in Rosemount. All hauling is expected to be finished before spring.

“This is the time to do it with the ground being frozen because it minimizes the risk of airborne contaminants” said Gerald Stahnke, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) Superior Plating project manager.

Previously the MPCA plan for the Superfund site was to cap the property to contain the polluted land and continue to monitor and treat groundwater at the site.

Superior Plating went bankrupt in 2011 and First and University Investors bought the property in 2012. Since purchasing the property First and University has worked with the MPCA to amend the site cleanup plan to take a more aggressive approach to the cleanup effort, which will expedite its ability to develop the property.

“This could’ve been a process that went on for three to five years, depending on how state funding came in,” said Stahnke.

The 30-day public comment period began Dec. 3 and the MPCA presented the amended plan to neighborhood residents at a Dec. 12 meeting. After the public comment period is over the MPCA has 30 days to respond to any resident concerns before work begins.

First and University will pay for the groundwater treatment for the next five years, and if contamination still remains after that the state will assume responsibility. There are no known private wells in the area, so public risk is considered minimal. The number of contaminants in the groundwater at Superior Plating has fallen from 23,000 parts per million (ppm) in 2010 to 16,000 ppm in 2012.

The primary source of pollution on the property comes from chromium, which can be identified easily due to its bright yellow hue. The MPCA installed and later expanded a wastewater collection system at the northwest corner of the site after yellow ooze was reported in a railroad ditch near the propery in 2011 and 2012.

“The good news is that the onsite contaminants are color coded. If there’s still pollution there you’ll be able to identify it easily,” said Stahnke.

 The MPCA has identified a two-block wide contaminated groundwater plume that stretches southeast from Superior Plating to the Pillsbury A-Mill Lofts. A private contractor will begin testing in the plume for contaminated soil vapors beginning Dec. 26.

For more information on the MPCA Superior Plating Superfund site visit To submit comments on the amended plan email Gerald Stahnke at or send a letter to:

Gerald Stahnke, Project Manager


520 Lafayette Rd. N

Saint Paul, MN 55155