More soil contaminated with TCE found in east Minneapolis

Minnesota officials say they don't know where additional soil contamination from trichloroethylene and other chemicals found in east Minneapolis is coming from.

Minnesota Pollution Control Agency researchers found contamination this summer and are trying to locate the source by gaining access to buildings in the area, the Minnesota Daily reported. TCE has been linked to an increased risk of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and can increase the risk of kidney cancer.

TCE contamination previously discovered in the area was linked to disposal at a General Mills facility decades ago. General Mills disposed of the industrial solvent in an "absorption pit" from 1947 to 1962.

The pit included three 55-gallon drums buried 10 to 12 feet underneath the surface. General Mills investigated the site in 1982 and found that the area's groundwater and soil were contaminated by TCE.

General Mills spokesman Rob Litt said state pollution control agency data and evidence from environmental sampling show that the current TCE contamination could be originating from more than one place.

Hans Neve, the agency's superfund program supervisor, said General Mills was asked to submit a mitigation plan to the Minnesota Department of Health this month but asked for an extension to March 1 to allow for more time to review the case. Neve said the agency generally grants extension requests, which aren't unusual.

Shawn Collins, an attorney for Como residents involved in an ongoing lawsuit against General Mills, said they're bringing the case forward for the damages community members suffered and to force a broad cleanup of the facility.

"For 35 years (General Mills) has been saying it is the source of contamination but is now changing tune and it is interesting to see how it will change," Collins said.

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