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Pollution testing at co. landfill will get second look due to costs

WILLMAR -- Plans to measure how far pollution has traveled in underground water from the Kandiyohi County landfill are getting a second look after cost estimates for the work came in more than double the estimate.

The type of testing that was planned is unique and has apparently never been done before in Minnesota, which made contractors skittish about bidding, said Jeff Bredberg, Kandiyohi County's environmental services director. "Nobody's done anything like this be-fore," he said.

The county was instructed by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency to determine the extent of an underground contamination plume that is likely the result of barrels of old industrial paint buried at the landfill decades ago.

The MPCA asked that testing be done, but it's up to the county to determine what methods to use, Bredberg said.

Consultants hired by the county, Environmental Concepts and Design Inc., had recommended doing 14 soil borings in the plume area northwest of the original landfill site. Undisturbed groundwater samples were to be collected at 5-foot vertical intervals throughout the length of each soil boring, for a total of 306 groundwater samples.

Engineers estimated the project would cost $84,885.

Braun Intertect of St. Cloud presented a quote of $159,085 and Glacial Ridge Drilling of New London had a quote of $183,050.

Bredberg told the County Board of Commissioners this week that Glacial Ridge Drilling agreed to conduct a test sample boring at a cost not to exceed $25,000 to determine if the method of collecting water is feasible and if custom-made equipment is necessary.

While doing the borings is not an issue, there's concern about how water samples can be collected at different depths without contaminating samples from one level to the next, said Bredberg, who recommended going ahead with the test drill. Information gained from that test would better equip the county for proceeding with bidding the project again, he said.

Commissioner Harlan Madsen said $25,000 seemed "astronomically high" for one test and was reluctant to proceed.

"This is very significant as far as I'm concerned," said Chairman Richard Falk. "I'm not even liking the test hole right now."

Commissioner Dean Shuck said the test would help determine the most reliable way to fix the problem.

The issue was tabled until additional information is obtained.

Carolyn Lange

A reporter for more than 30 years, Carolyn Lange covers regional news with the West Central Tribune.

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