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Wrecking Ball Swings At Minn.’s Top Superfund Site

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(credit: CBS) Bill Hudson
Bill Hudson has been with WCCO-TV since 1989. The native of Elk Rive...
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Minnesota’s top Superfund site is finally undergoing cleanup as demolition began Friday on the former Army ammunition plant in Arden Hills.

The plant produced bombs and bullets from World War II through Desert Storm, but left behind heavy contamination. That pollution was one of the stumbling blocks when the 430-acre site was under consideration as home to a new Vikings football stadium.

Since then, Ramsey County has purchased the property and will be reimbursed for much of the cleanup cost.

Folks have been waiting more than a decade for this project to begin. And it started with a bang…a ceremonial drop of the wrecking ball.

With one fell swoop, bricks crumbled and the fireworks flew. Demolition of the Twin Cities Army Ammunition Plant is finally underway.

“It means about putting people to work…cleaning up polluted lands and it means about economic development for the future,” said Raphael Ortega, the Ramsey County commissioner.

Friday’s ceremony marks the end of one era…the start of another.

From the days following Pearl Harbor, workers there built the bombs and bullets to fight the country’s wars.

“Sad to see it go? I am, I’m sorry, it shoulda stayed,” said Don Johnson, a former TCAAP employee.

Officials have wanted to redevelop the site for more than a decade.

After the failed try to build a Vikings stadium there, the plans changed.

“It’s going to be mixed use, and going to have residential and commercial [buildings],” Ortega said.

Demolition won’t be easy. Forty buildings will come down and contaminated soil will be scooped up.

“We’ve performed a lot of Superfund sites, or a lot of different brownfield sites. This project is unique mostly in the size,” said Mark Ryan the president Carl Bolander & Sons, a specialty contractor.

Amazingly, 90 percent of the materials will be sorted, recycled and reused.

Soon homes and businesses will replace the bullets.

This will be an enormous demolition project, and will take two years to complete. It’s awfully expensive, too. Arden Hills and Ramsey County are sharing the $28.5 million cost.

But when it’s all said and done, this plant is a federal Superfund site, all but around $6 million will be recovered.

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