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Contaminated soil will cost USC

By Staff | May 7, 2017

Though United South Central’s old school site has been knocked down for some time, this specific topic keeps getting dug back up.


Last week, at a special USC School Board meeting, members of the board came together to discuss a settlement agreement with Kevitt Construction which was contracted in the spring of 2015 to demolish the old USC?school site. After the demolition, some concerns about soil contamination were brought up by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA).

In the settlement agreement and release contract, it states a dispute arose between the USC School District and Kevitt Excavation in regards to the removal and disposal of the contaminated soils and materials from the project site.

According to Superintendent Keith Fleming, Kevitt Excavating felt it was the responsibility of the district to remove the contaminated soil, where the district felt it was Kevitt Excavation’s responsibility.

“There were certain types of fill that were approved to be put back into the ground of the old school site, and they (Kevitt Excavating) did not put the proper fill that was on the list of approved fill,”?said Fleming.

And so, the two parties came to an impasse. But, because the soil was, indeed, contaminated, it had to be removed. Kevitt Excavating did, indeed, remove the contaminated debris from the school, and this is where the settlement comes into play.

“The parties have reached an agreement resolving the claims,” states the settlement.

At last week’s special meeting, the School Board went into closed session for approximately 15 minutes to discuss with USC’s District attorney, Jay Squires, the proposed settlement agreement.

After reconvening from closed session, the board made a formal motion to approve the settlement agreement.

That specific agreement states the district agrees to pay Kevitt the balance of the contract sum being retained by the district, which totals $68,473 and will be made within 10 business days.

The district will also, through its insurer, agree to pay Kevitt Excavation an additional $40,000 for the removal of the contaminated fill.

Though both parties felt the other was at fault, Kevitt Excavation still put in the man work to remove the contaminated fill and disposed of it at a specially-designated disposal facility.

After the USC School District pays Kevitt Excavation, they will be fully released from the agreement.

To understand how this misunderstanding came about, one would have to go back to the previous summer of 2016, when USC?found the old school site did not pass a limited site assessment that was issued by the MPCA after USC was required to conduct soil sampling at the site after the demolition.

The testing was done near an underground tank, which was removed from the site in the summer of 2015. The soil surrounding the tank was tested for soil and ground water contamination.

Soil and aggregate rock was placed back after the demolition. It is alleged the excavation team placed unapproved fill back in the ground at the old school site unintentionally. And, from testing, that proved correct.

The USC District later stated they had conversations with Kevitt Excavating and was told everything on their part was done properly. The district then elicited the help of Braun Intertec to make sure the fill used was not contaminated.

Upon further testing, Braun Intertec’s group confirmed with the district that some fill did have concerns on its test results and would need to be dug up again and properly replaced without any unapproved or contaminated fill.

It was then that Kevitt Excavating began work on decontaminating the area by removing the unapproved fill, taking it to a disposal facility, and refilling the site with proper fill.

After the approval of the settlement agreement was made by the board, payments will be given to Kevitt Excavation for their work on the second removal of fill.