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Contaminated soil cost nearly $50K to remove

By Staff | Sep 8, 2013

There once were gas stations on many of the Highway 169 intersections in Blue Earth. That fact is now becoming a financial burden to the city.

And, the price tag is close to $50,000.

Luckily, the Blue Earth City Council learned Tuesday night at their meeting that their actual out-of-pocket expense is going to be $16,000. But, not so lucky, there still could be more costs to come.

Here is how this all came about.

While digging in a sanitary sewer line at the Seventh Street intersection, work crews uncovered a vein of soil contaminated with petroleum.

That happened on July 2 or 3 and brought construction to a halt for a week or more while the soil was tested.

“We sent in a request to the state before July 11 for assistance from the state petro fund,” city engineer Wes Brown told the council on Tuesday. “They agreed to help in the cost of removal, but only from that point forward.”

In other words, the city was on the hook for 100 percent of the cost of the 400 tons of contaminated soil already removed.

In all, 1,244 tons were hauled away to a special landfill in Albert Lea, at a cost of $35 per ton.

Total bill – $47,093.76.

Of that amount, the Minnesota Department of Transportation is going to cover $3,504 because it was soil from the actual highway reconstruction area.

But, because the rest of the cost $43,589.76 came from soil removed from the city’s sanitary sewer line trench, Blue Earth has to pay for it.

“The state petro fund will cover about $27,000 of that cost,” Brown told the council. “That means the city’s actual share is going to be around $16,000.”

The bad news is that more contaminated soil could still be found. Brown was concerned about the Second Street intersection.

“I think there were two gas stations there, too,” Councilman Dan Brod says. “Where Garlick’s Water Softening is now.”

Brown says if more contaminated soil is found, the city will continue to get assistance in the cost from the state petro fund.

The city could be facing another costly problem.

Brown says the contractor has filed a claim of $120,000 for the contaminated soil causing a delay in the construction schedule.

“MnDOT is negotiating with the contractor at this time,” Brown says. “We don’t think this will end up being that large of an amount.

There were several other construction related items discussed at Tuesday’s meeting.

A concern was expressed for getting Blue Earth Area school buses through Highland Drive while construction is going on.

Councilman Dan Brod, who also is the transportation director at the school, said it has been a problem.

Brown said he will find out each day’s construction status on the road and the city will send out an email to Brod and to parents of students who live there.

The city received two quotes for doing grass seeding on boulevards of previous construction projects.

Sod that was laid on the boulevards did not always take, due to dry conditions.

The council voted to accept the bid of Lawn Solutions of Fairmont for $6,843.75.

The other bid was from Weerts Construction of Winnebago and was for $18,750.

Brown said he investigated the reason for the big difference and reported that Lawn Solutions was trying to generate more business in the Blue Earth area.

The council voted to authorize the city administrator to have a street striping company put a double yellow stripe down the center of East Street.

Several councilmen expressed concern that drivers are not staying in the proper lanes on the street, especially where the road curves and crosses the river.

The council voted to have the painting done no matter what the cost would be.