Paynesville Contamination 13 Dec 11

In 1997, two potentially dangerous chemicals were found in water samples from two Paynesville city wells. Fourteen years later, officials say the city’s water supply is safe, but the source of the contamination has yet to be cleaned up. City officials want to know why.

The St. Cloud Times reports the biggest concern for Public Works Director Ron Mergen is that the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency has been testing and monitoring the site of a former gas station for years — and telling the city for the past six years that the site was going to be cleaned up.

“This has been very, very frustrating,” so says City Administrator Renee Eckerly.

Officials with the MPCA say the city water supply is safe, the area is continually monitored and the contamination source is stable and may even be shrinking.

The contamination already has caused the two wells to be replaced, and city officials are worried other wells could be affected if the contamination moves.

Paynesville Mayor Jeff Thompson, council member Jeff Bertram, Mergen, Sen. Michelle Fischbach and Rep. Larry Hosch are scheduled to meet Wednesday with MPCA Commissioner Paul Aasen and his legislative director to discuss the contamination.

As of the end of October, about $1.65 million has been spent on the site. Mergen says a typical site the program handles costs only about $31,000 and is investigated and cleaned up.