VAPOR INTRUSION: MPCA, MDH, General Mills hold office hours - KMSP-TV

VAPOR INTRUSION: MPCA, MDH, General Mills hold office hours

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Area affected by TCE vapor investigation Area affected by TCE vapor investigation
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TCE vapor test sampling results as of Dec. 4, 2013 TCE vapor test sampling results as of Dec. 4, 2013
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MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) -

Residents in the Como neighborhood in have a new avenue to learn more about the chemical vapors that could be seeping into their homes. State experts and company representatives are now holding office hours.

Representatives with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, Minnesota Department of Health, General Mills and the contractor conducting testing are now available to residents to provide one-on-one answers to their questions.

Since the news about trichloroethylene (TCE) vapor came out about a month ago, several public meetings have been held to give residents more information; however, Thursday marked the first chance for homeowners to sit down, face-to-face with someone and get answers to their specific situations.

"This is the house that I've lived in for 50 years," Diane Pederson told Fox 9 News. "My grandpa bought it in 1916."

Like many Como residents, Pederson has spent most of her life living near the University of Minnesota. Now, the house her family has owned for nearly a century could be compromised by an invisible intruder.

"Really another blow to our community," Pederson said.

Pederson lives just about a block away from where General Mills dumped an industrial solvent into an absorption pit at a research facility decades ago, starting in the 1940s and into the 1960s. The chemicals then contaminated two aquifers of groundwater, and General Mills spent 25 years treating the contamination. Those efforts ceased in 2010, but soil samples found TCE vapor was still in the soil and could be seeping into basements.

"General Mills has been cleaning and treating the ground water for more than 25 years in this area," Kirstie Foster, director of external communications for General Mills, said. "We're committed to addressing this issue and making it right."

More than a dozen residents showed up at Van Cleve Part for the face-to-face meetings, and there are two other opportunities to meet with the representatives next week.


OFFICE HOURS

Date: Wednesday, Dec. 18
Hours: 4-6 p.m.
Location: Van Cleve Recreation Center (901 15th Ave. SE)

Date: Thursday, Dec. 19
Hours: 9-11 a.m.
Location: Southeast Como Improvement Association (1170 15th Ave. SE)


"There's people who no longer live in the neighborhood who did at one time who have health concerns talking to the health department," Sam Brungard said. "I think some others are concerned about how this is going to affect their property values."

Pederson told Fox 9 News she was pleased with the answers she was given, and felt like the agents she met with were working toward her interests. Now, she plans to have her home tested for TCE vapors next week; however, she worries that she won't be able to sell it if General Mills doesn't take care of the problem at its source.

"If General Mills is a good partner and works aggressively to get rid of the stuff … then, I will be optimistic," Pederson said.

A spokesperson for General Mills said more than half of the 200 homeowners have allowed contractors access to test their basements. So far, more than 100 homes have been tested and 55 homeowners have been offered vapor ventilation systems. General Mills is picking up the tab for the tests, the mitigation units, the installation, and maintenance.

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