Erin Brockovich's chief investigator to hold meeting in Como - KMSP-TV

Erin Brockovich's chief investigator to hold meeting on Como vapors

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Area affected by TCE vapor investigation Area affected by TCE vapor investigation
Vapor intrusion process Vapor intrusion process
Vapor intrusion sampling status Vapor intrusion sampling status
  • Erin Brockovich's chief investigator heads to MinneapolisMore>>

  • Como residents meet on vapor intrusion, contamination concerns

    Como residents alerted to vapors from old General Mills site

    Tuesday, November 12 2013 11:29 PM EST2013-11-13 04:29:28 GMT
    On Tuesday night, residents living in a southeast Minneapolis neighborhood came together to discuss the investigation into potentially harmful vapors linked to solvents dumped there.
    On Tuesday night, residents living in a southeast Minneapolis neighborhood came together to discuss the investigation into potentially harmful vapors linked to solvents dumped during the 1940s through the early 1960s.
  • Como residents alerted to vapors from old General Mills site

    Como residents alerted to vapors from old General Mills site

    Thursday, November 7 2013 10:41 PM EST2013-11-08 03:41:49 GMT
    The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency sent letters to residents of the Como neighborhood in southeast Minneapolis on Nov. 6 to alert them of an ongoing investigation of potentially harmful vapors.
    The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency sent letters to residents of the Como neighborhood in southeast Minneapolis on Wednesday, Nov. 6 to alert them of an ongoing investigation of potentially harmful vapors. The vapors in question are trichloroethylene (TCE), an industrial solvent used at the former General Mills research facility at 2010 E. Hennepin Avenue from the 1940s to early 1960s.
MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) -

The chief environmental investigator for Erin Brockovich -- and members of the litigation team -- will soon be in Minneapolis to meet with residents of the Como neighborhood over vapor intrusion in the area.

Robert Bowcock will host a town hall meeting at Van Cleve Park, located at 901 15th Ave. SE, on Saturday between 9 and 11 a.m.

News of the upcoming trip and meeting came just one day after Fox 9 News learned initial testing results from the area have not only confirmed the presence of trichloroethylene (TCE) vapors in neighborhood homes, but also that the levels vary widely and are above the threshold set by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.

Vapor intrusion first became an issue for area residents when the Minnesota Department of Health and MPCA sent a joint letter to residents to alert them to an ongoing investigation of TCE-contaminated groundwater below their homes since vapors linked to the industrial solvent and degreaser had been found.

General Mills used the solvent starting in the 1940s and through 1960s, and during that time, the chemical was disposed of in a pit on the property, which was customary at the time. Since then, General Mills spent 25 years treating two contaminated aquifers; however, that work ceased in 2010 after tests confirmed TCE concentrations were significantly lower and the groundwater was stabilized.

In a release, Integrated Resource Management, Inc. described the decision to end the water treatment "a gross error." IRM also calls for more investigation to determine the actual risks to residents since the letters sent out claim there is no "immediate or urgent" health concern. Many residents who spoke with Fox 9 News have spent decades in their homes and are concerned about long-term exposure.

The release from the California-based company lists the single greatest concern for property owners is the request to open their homes to General Mills for testing as recommended by MDH and MPCA; however, he contends those who do are not being given their test results.

"It's really pathetic that I can sit at a desk in California and see, on the Internet, the big red marks on properties that are contaminated with TCE and the property owners haven't even been notified," Bowcock said in a release.

The MPCA contacted Fox 9 News to say Bowcock's statement is "flatly inaccurate." A map of the sampling results is available to the public on the MPCA website.

According to General Mills, property owners are notified via both phone call and letter once the results of the sampling are returned. Furthermore, the company says that process is completed before the map on the MPCA website is updated for the rest of the public.

So far, fewer than half the homeowners in the affected area have consented to tests. Of those who have, officials say more than half should receive a ventilation system in their homes to remove the vapors. General Mills has offered to cover the costs of the $2,000 device, which works like a radon ventilation system, and installation.

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