Woodbury takes first step in long-term fix for 3M pollution

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Woodbury is buying a $2.4 million house — to tear down for a water filtering plant.
The plant will be the cornerstone of the city’s efforts to rid the water of chemical pollutants manufactured by the 3M Corp.
The City Council decided on Jan. 13 to buy the property at 8386 Ranch Road, with a grant from the state Pollution Control Agency.
Officials don’t yet know what the plant will cost or when it will be operational.
The property includes the house and several acres of farmland, immediately south of East Ridge High School.
Woodbury already has one water-filtering station, constructed in 2020 after pollution knocked out seven out of the city’s 19 water wells. The temporary plant is the reason why the water is safe to drink, with levels of pollution below federally-mandated safety limits.
But that $7 million station is considered a short-term solution, according to Assistant Public Works Director Jim Westerman. He said the new plant will be a long-term fix for the city’s pollution problem.
Officials said the property is large enough for a new plant, with extra room for screening to shield the view from neighboring homes. The purchase agreement includes a lease-back provision, allowing the owners to remain until July 2022.
3M manufactured the chemicals starting in the 1940s for use in non-stick cookware, stain repellant and fire-extinguishing foam. The company legally disposed of the chemicals in dump sites in Woodbury, Lake Elmo, Oakdale and Cottage Grove, ending in the 1970s.
But traces of the chemicals leaked into groundwater, and are present today in tiny quantities — measured in parts per trillion.
The state attorney general filed an environmental damage lawsuit against the company in 2018, which 3M settled for $850 million. Of that, $700 million remains after legal expenses.
The money is intended to be spent on long-term projects to enhance water quality, and the Woodbury purchase is one of the first to be approved.Related Articles

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