Polluted Atlas Site: City Shoulders Bigger Burden

By KBJR News 1

October 11, 2010 Updated Oct 11, 2010 at 10:50 PM CDT

DULUTH, MN (Northland's NewsCenter) -- City leaders are taking steps this week to secure hundreds of thousands of dollars to redevelop the old Atlas Cement site in Morgan Park.

The city–owned industrial park is a well–known "brownfield" site with varying levels of hazardous chemicals in the soil, including lead, arsenic, and petroleum fuel.

Since 2005, City leaders have been trying to restore the site's economic potential. Recent cleanup efforts on 11 of the site's 55-acres resulted in the relocation and new development for the Lincoln Park-based Ikonics Corporation.

New this week: The City of Duluth will apply for three grants totaling $1.4 million dollars from the EPA to help assess and clean up the polluted soil.

According to city officials, two of the grants represent a combined $400,000 that can be used for further research and assessment on the site.

A separate loan for $1 million could be used for a revolving loan to help establish business on the site.

Monday's Regular City Council meeting also found councilors accepting a separate $200,000 petroleum clean-up grant for the site applied for last winter.

Duluth Economic Development Leader Heidi Timm-Bijold says the goal is to prepare for future business.

"So when a business expresses a need – say a smaller 4 or 5 acre site – we have that ready to go for them," Timm-Bijold said.

"Otherwise it's the kind of site where we think it's the best practice to wait until a project is identified."

The City has already accepted a number of important grants to clean up the site, including a $500,000 federal grant last spring to install roads, utilities, and other infrastructure.

Written for the web by Matt Standal