Our Superfund Yard in Minneapolis

Have you heard about arsenic contamination in South Minneapolis?

If not, an area in South Minneapolis has been declared an EPA Superfund area due to arsenic contamination from an old fertilizer plant. Nearly $18 million from the Superfund will be used to replace lawns contaminated.

We received a letter from the EPA this week regarding our property. Our's is one of the residences that will have the entire 12-18" of the topsoil removed and replaced by the EPA next year....from what I understand, both our entire front yard and back yard are contaminated.

I am grateful for the cleanup effort. I'm also glad we planted our garden in hanging buckets using growing soil that we purchased.

I have a feeling we'll need to learn to love dirt and mud....really embrace it. It's gonna be a messy, messy project digging out 12-18" inches of topsoil from our rather large city lot and replacing it, especially when you add a dog into the mix. I will be zen about it, and consider it my "earth" year...a chance to focus on that magical element made of stones, sand, clays and humus.

I'm building a list of questions about this project:
- Are there are alternatives to replacing the lawn with native species or a rock garden?
- Should we hold off on installing that new sidewalk and patio?
- Who pays for all the water necessary to re-establish the plantings?

[where: EPA Superfund, South Minneapolis, 55406]


Anonymous said...

One thing you may want to ask is what they are going to do to make sure the foundation of your house isn’t compromised. That’s a lot of soil to remove and if it cracks while they are working, you will have issues down the road.

You may want to ask them about how water will drain off your property. The last thing you want is water running into your house the first time it rains (or snows) more than an inch.

Do you have trees in your yard? If so, are they going to cut them down so they can remove the contaminated soil?

Just a few things to think about.


Ed Kohler said...

Great questions. I don't think I've heard of them being addressed before. You could call down to the LCC to find out what the experience of those who've gone through the process already have learned.

abockheim said...

Hi fellow superfunder,

We only rent, so not sure if our landlord will have the yard done, but our place is within the superfund boundaries. Anyway you asked about alternatives to lawn. I'm going to school for landscape architecture and happen to know that there are several:
1. Clover or a clover/fescue grass mix (check out http://landscaping.about.com/cs/lawns/a/clover_lawns_4.htm)
2. Native prairie plants, also a seed mix. Ask at Mother Earth or Minnehaha Nursery.

Both of these options are much better for the earth, are less expensive to take care of, and still look amazing.

Good luck!