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Environmental studies to be done on Willmar Power Plant ahead of decisions on building's future

Prior to demolishing or redeveloping the Willmar Power Plant, Willmar Municipal Utilities first needs to understand what sort of environmental hazards could be lurking in the building. Two phases of environmental studies and a pre-demolition hazardous material study will help answer those questions.

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Wenck Associates were hired to complete the Phase 1 and 2 environmental studies plus the pre-demolition hazards study of the Willmar Power Plant. Both the inside and outside will be looked at. The studies need to be done prior to the plant being torn down or redeveloped. File photo / West Central Tribune

WILLMAR β€” When the Willmar Power Plant shuts down for good on July 1, it could still be years before the building is torn down or sold. Essential controls for Willmar's power grid are housed in the plant, and until Willmar Municipal Utilities decides to move those to a new location, the plant will be needed.

However, before anything can be done to the power plant, Willmar Municipal Utilities will need to understand just what it is dealing with when it comes to environmental hazards such as lead and asbestos in the building.

"It might be timely for us to do some of these studies," said Willmar Municipal Utilities Commissioner Bruce DeBlieck.

The commission, which approved a contract at the March 23 meeting, awarded the job to complete the environmental studies to Wenck Associates for $59,310.

"We are pretty confident in their background and their past experiences," said Kevin Marti, facilities and maintenance supervisor.

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In the first phase of the environmental site assessment, Wenck will retrieve and review plant records, do reconnaissance on the site and speak with people with knowledge of the site, Marti said in an email to the West Central Tribune. The second phase of the assessment will include drilling core samples from around the plant site and testing them for hazards. There will also be samples of groundwater, vapor, air and dust taken and tested.

The pre-demolition survey will identify and catalog the hazardous materials found in and around the plant. Wenck Associates will also provide Willmar Municipal Utilities with preliminary costs on how much it would cost to abate the hazards found.

"Which is needed before we can move forward with any demolition or repurpose of the plant," DeBlieck said.

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The studies will be looking for hazards like lead and asbestos in the building, along ground contamination from the old coal pile outside. File photo / West Central Tribune

Shelby Lindrud is a reporter with the West Central Tribune of Willmar. Her focus areas are arts and entertainment, agriculture, features writing and the Kandiyohi County Board.

She can be reached via email slindrud@wctrib.com or direct 320-214-4373.


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