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Friday, September 28, 2007

Old computers dumped in lake & other metro toxic waste contaminated sites

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16 Comments:

Blogger Bob said...

Hamline University computer equipment dumped in Stearns County lake
A boat filled with illegally dumped and potentially dangerous computer equipment is pulled from the bottom of a Minnesota lake. How it got there is only half the mystery.
BY DENNIS LIEN
Pioneer Press
Article Last Updated: 09/27/2007 11:55:24 PM CDT


Contractors for the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency empty computers and monitors from a boat pulled last October from Rice Lake, about 80 miles northwest of the Twin Cities. The boat was sunk to illegally dump discarded Hamline University equipment. (KIT GRAYSON, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency)In spring 2006, computer monitors began bobbing to the surface of Stearns County's Rice Lake and washing ashore.

By that fall, authorities had identified the problem: a boatload of personal computers, printers, monitors and other equipment resting in 20 feet of murky water.

Now, almost a year after the boat filled with discarded Hamline University equipment was pulled from the lake, Minnesota officials are trying to figure out who dumped it there and why.

"It was intentional, and it was criminal,'' said Jeff Connell, manager of compliance and enforcement for the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. "It was the most egregious example (of dumping unused computers) I've seen, considering where they put them.''

In all, 64 computer units were traced to the lake. Each contained metals and hazardous pollutants such as lead, cadmium and mercury.

"It would take a long time for these materials to leach out of where they are, but left there long enough, that would happen,'' said Connell. He said the heavy metals eventually would have found their way into the food chain.

Panfish, walleye and northern pike are just some of the fish in Rice Lake.

All of the equipment came from St. Paul's Hamline University. Officials with the university said they thought they had disposed of it properly by turning the equipment over to a recycling contractor in the early 1990s.

"The first we heard of them was when the PCA said they found them on the bottom of the lake,''
said Dan Loritz, Hamline's vice president for university relations. "That was a surprise to us.''

The school, he said, has given the MPCA the name of the contractor so the agency can determine why the equipment, which still had Hamline stickers on it, wasn't recycled as intended.

The name of the contractor was not available Thursday.

With the registration number on the boat still visible, Connell said, authorities are focusing on some suspects.

"We have people of interest,'' Connell

said. "Do we have people we're circling in on? Yes, we do.''
But that's not the only puzzle. Authorities also are looking for another boat filled with old computer equipment.

It seems that about the time the five monitors floated to the surface, a lakeside resident took several photographs of a computer-filled boat parked on a trailer near the lake. When the sunken boat was finally located last year, investigators thought they'd gotten everything.

Not quite.

"The boat on the trailer and at the bottom of the bay - they are not the same,'' Connell said. "It has since disappeared. ... We certainly searched the whole bay of Rice Lake, and it's not there.''

The company that found the first boat agreed.

"The photographs show what appears to be an aluminum hull vessel with wire bed frames securing computer monitors,'' said a letter from Cliff Schmidt, of Schmidt Marine Specialties. "The vessel recovered was a fiberglass hull with wider sides than in the earlier photographs.''

Connell said authorities don't know whether the boat and computers were sunk elsewhere in the lake, taken to another lake and scuttled, or simply hauled somewhere else.

"We need to find the person responsible to find the boat,'' he said.

Based on the contents found so far, Loritz said he doesn't believe all of the equipment Hamline got rid of in the early 1990s has been recovered.

Authorities said they are relatively certain the dumping took place in spring 2006, at least a dozen years after Hamline got rid of the equipment.

"They weren't down there very long,'' Connell said. "And there is no indication there was a release of any of the metals in the monitors.''

If the monitors hadn't floated, Connell said, they probably would have remained in the lake for a long time. "It's unlikely they would have been discovered,'' he said.

When the MPCA learned about the computers, it stayed in touch with Hamline. The school hired a consultant to find out what could have happened. Meanwhile, the search for the source continued.

On Sept. 29, 2006, Schmidt Marine used a side-scanning sonar to locate the boat and then marked the spot. Almost a month later, on Oct. 26, it used lift bags to raise the hull, which

Contractors for the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency use flotation devices to raise a boat filled with computer hardware from the bottom of Rice Lake in Stearns County in November. The equipment was once owned by St. Paul's Hamline University, which had given it to a recycling contractor in the early 1990s. The university reimbursed the MPCA $32,500 after the agency had the hardware hauled away and recycled. (KIT GRAYSON, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency)was still loaded down with equipment. The contents were hauled away.
Saying that relinquishing control of hazardous waste electronics violates state law, the MPCA argued Hamline was still responsible for the equipment.

Hamline paid to have the computers hauled away and recycled, and has since reimbursed the MPCA $32,500 for its expenses.

"We're responsible for helping make this right,'' Loritz said.

Kay Hanson, a lake resident and former president of the Rice Lake Association, praised the school for acting quickly.

"Hamline really took the lead on this and we owe them a debt of gratitude,'' said Hanson, adding that she's glad the investigation is finally becoming public.

"It's just so hard to know that this has all happened,'' Hanson said.

Dennis Lien can be reached at dlien@pioneerpress.com or 651-228-5588. COMPUTER DISPOSAL

Looking to get rid of an old computer? Remember, it's been illegal to throw them in the garbage for more than a year in Minnesota, because computers contain hazardous materials such as lead, cadmium and mercury. Two local Web sites that suggest lots of options for the proper disposal of computers, printers, monitors and other hardware are:

-- Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, www.pca.state.mn.us.

-- GreenGuardian.com.

8:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why should Hamline University have to pay for this clean up? They did not dump it there.

Hamline University hired a company to recycle these computers, the recycler took possession of the computers and they should be held responsible not Hamline University.

Is this the same standard that is going to be used with Ford Motor Company and their highly polluted property in Highland Park?

Hamline University was wrong to pay to the MPCA, $32,000.00 for the clean up of these computers. Ford will not be as weak like Hamline University. Ford will fight the MPCA all the way or use a pretend "problem" to their advantage. I am referring to the Ford Little League ball fields that Ford recently closed. The higher purpose of the Ford ball field land is light industrial instead of ball fields. Ford can make more money off this property than using the land for ball fields. This piece of property is the least polluted out of all of Ford's property in Highland Park and has been used as little league ball fields since 1954.

Take a look at the Exxon/Mobil tank farm on W 7th that the city of St. Paul took from Exxon/Mobil for housing. Exxon said the land was not fit for housing and was highly polluted, but the city of St. Paul with the blessing of Dave Thune, Chris Coleman and Chuck Repke took this property anyway from Exxon/Mobil. Would you move your kids into this area, no way? Would you eat vegetables grown in any garden in that area, no way?

Chuck Repke can defend this housing on the former Exxon/Mobil tank farm site, as he has been active in the W. 7th area for years. It is interesting that Chuck fought the 35E link from being built in the first place, but he has done nothing to stop this highly polluted site from being developed. Instead Chuck has encouraged the development of the highly polluted Exxon/Mobil site all in the name of money. Double standard here wouldn’t you say Chuck?

9:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, thank you for giving me credit for other people's work, but the credit on the development of the Mobile site goes to Thune and the West Seventh Federation. I am a past president, but have not been active for some time.

You have hit the nail on the head on the true fight about Eminent Domain in this country. It is a struggle between the major industrical poluters like mobile/exon and the citizens who live in the communities.

Companies like Mobile believe that they have the right to polute the land, destroy the ground water and when they are done chain lock the gate and walk away. They would like to pay minimal property taxes on the vacant land and let the scar sit and fester in our cities. So, people with courage have taken the big boys on and pressed their local government to take the vacant properties through eminent domain (pay fair market value for the land - millions for the mobile/exon site) and then redevelop them. But here is the rub. What drives the huge poluters crazy is that when "we the people" buy our land back, we get it back in the state it was sold... without their polution on it!

So, Mobile/Exon funds every "property rights" group in the country. They led the charge here to make sure that Ford won't have to go through what they are going through. Under the new state law, Ford doesn't have to do a thing with their poluted property. They are now totally protected from ever having the City of Saint Paul using eminent domain. If it turns out that the land is so poluted that they can't reuse it, the State of Minnesota has now said to the people who live in Saint Paul, to bad. It is now Ford's right to let that property sit vacant until the end of time.

Never forget those big boys write big checks to the GOP and there isn't on GOP Rep or Senator in the legislature that has to worry about either Saint Paul or Minneapolis. So, let them rot and have another Scotch on Exon...

JMONTOMEPPOF

Chuck Repke

9:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This doesn't make sense to me. I thought old computers had value as scrap. Precious metals that kind of thing.

9:51 AM  
Blogger Eric said...

Hamline pays because Hamline had a responsibility to recycle that equipment. Subcontracting the disposal, doesn't remove Hamline's original obligation. What the school will do is no doubt sue for a refund, damages, and fines. They'll win.

Republicans, property rights advocates and Mobile Oil all in bed together? Say it ain't so Chuck. It explains their hatred of the city.

Eric M.

10:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ummm....I have news for you Chuck....."we the people" don't own shit, Exon owned that land. You're a nutball Chuck.

10:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry 10:39 how little you know.

Since the country was founded the government when it sold or gave away land maintained the right of eminent domain, which literally means the kings land. In this country "We the People" are the government, and therefore King. So, the public, through their tool the government can excersise the right of eminent domain and take back their land. The fifth amendment to the constitution requires that when the public exercises the right of eminent domain it must pay just compensation.

What happened in Minnesota this year is that the legislature restrict cities rights to exercise eminent domain and said the ecconomic development was not a "public purpose" for cities to use this right.

JMONTOMEPPOF

Chuck Repke

10:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To Chuck,

You try and pin this on the Republicans. This is interesting coming from a DFL activist like yourself.

Let’s take Chuck to school shall we. Who is charge of the Minnesota House? The DFL. Who is in charge of the Minnesota Senate? The DFL.

Please produce any evidence to show the "Republicans" received these checks you talk about to let polluters off the hook. Shall we talk about the Indian gaming community giving to the DFL to write state law in their favor?

Chuck you are a DFL activist plain and simple. You promote a DFL agenda and will defend any DFLer who is attacked here no matter is they are totally wrong or have broken the law.

Eric says that Republicans are in bed with Exxon/Mobil, but who runs St. Paul, the DFL. Who pushed the development of this site, the DFL controlled city council and mayor's office. Please name one Republican who voted for or against the Exxon/Mobil site of W. 7th. You can't because there are NO Republicans running St. Paul. So look at your own DFL Party and thank them for putting lives at risk by developing the Exxon/Mobil site.

Say Eric or Chuck would eat tomatoes grown on the Exxon/Mobil site? Would you let your family live on this site?

How the city took this property was wrong. Putting lives at risk just to expand the tax base for more government programs and wild spending by the DFL is wrong.

11:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Former Exon Property-

Saint Pauls Love Canal

Chuck, they said they were going to put a vapor barrier of earth 6' thick to protect the housing above.

news flash- the basement level of saint pauls love canal is at ground level where the fuel storage tanks use to sit.

11:24 AM  
Anonymous Bill Bong said...

Repke did it

12:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know about eminient domain, but try showing up at my house with your "we the people" attitude toward my property and see what happens to you.

1:02 PM  
Blogger Nancy Lazaryan said...

Chuck Repke and I argued about eminent domain on the posting entitled "Pacific Legal Foundation to Work in Cooperation With The A Democracy Town Hall Meeting Forum"..it has been archived in the 09-09-2007 file....so I'm dont going to go after Chuck again in this posting.

What I am going to say is how people in Ramsey County have no idea that the parks have all been contaminated with agent orange and silvex.

Ramsey County operated a compost and TRANSFER site on Beam Ave. in Maplewood. This site is part of a "swamp" in the watershed that feeds the St. Paul lake system...all the way to Lake Phalen.

The conditional use permit issued by Maplewood called for a specific limit to the amount of compost at the site. The problem is that Ramsey County had TEN TIMES the allowed compost.

The site also became an open DUMP...with much more than just compost...things like garbage, furniture, etc. were dumped at the site.

The trees around the site suddenly became bare...all the leaves dropped...in the summer.

Neighbors complained, and were called "crazy". Photos were taken. The neighbors hired chemical experts to test the site. Buried in the site were 55 gallon barrels of ???

The experts came back with the results...the site was containminated with AGENT ORANGE (the chemical used to destroy the forests in Vietnam...and that caused serious damage to the people that were exposed to the chemical).

The expert that was hired is the same person that developed agent orange for the government.

Many other toxic chemicals were found, including silvex, which is deadly.

The neighbors put on more pressure, but the county and the city of Maplewood would do nothing.

Instead, they decided to "dilute" the pollution by flooding the compost site...and sending the chemicals all the way to Lake Phalen.

Now remember, this was a compost site (come and pick up free compost for your yead)...and the compost was used in the parks in Ramsey County.

The neighbors spent more money, getting extensive testing done of their homes and their bodies. They discovered agent orange in their blood. One of the neighbors has died because of the assault on his immune system. Another woman, who was a child living next to the site, had eight miscarriages and fianlly a hysterectomy. Her DNA has been diagnosed as DAMAGED because of the chemicals.

The answer from the
"government"...sue us.

So they did.

Ramsey County strung along the lawsuit, with repeated "immunity" defenses. Finally, the Supreme Court said that the case would GO TO TRIAL.

Then, mysteriously, the judge in the case "sealed the records"...except I have copies of the expert reports and the evidence.

Suddenly, the attorneys representing the neighbors refused to go to trial and threatened the neighbors to sign settlement argreements.

Some of the neighbors
"broke away" from the group and tried to bring the case to trial, on their own. The judge refused and pressured the people to sign the agreement.

One of these people was a foster care parents for over 30 years. Now, she cannot have foster children in her home, because it is dangerous. She lost her income, her health, and is stuck with living in a contaminated house..she cannot sell the house without disclosing the contamination.

This "break away" group of neighbors has "exhausted state remedies"..they can go into the federal courts and sue.

But they have no money. One of the people even sold a family farm in So. Dakota to pay for the testing and the attorneys...and there isn't another farm to sell.

I know these people, personally. They are not "crazy". But they are sick and tired of people not paying attention to the problem that was created in
their neighborhood.

What happened to the compost site?

It was "closed" but never cleaned up...you can see kids riding their bikes through the contaminated site, everyday.

And everyday, some little girl is playing in the park, or digging in the garden...with the agent orange compost.

How many of these girls will have "fragile DNA" from the agent orange?

How many will suffer miscarriages because of the agent orange?

No one knows.

But everyone turned a blind eye when the neighbors of the Maplewood Beam Ave. compost site complained and pressured the government to stop the contamination.

It can only be called "bittersweet justice" when all the people that wouldn't listen, suddenly find out that their children have agent orange in their bodies.

Nancy Lazaryan

8:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And Eric will be right here to tell you that his beloved government would not be involved in anything like this. Nancy....you're nuts!.....right Eric?

12:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The people that was paid to dispose of these computers, they were dispose of.
The people didn't care, as long as the money was in their pockets.

10:21 AM  
Blogger Eric said...

What does the government have to do with this, except spotting criminal activity?

Eric

1:28 PM  
Blogger Nancy Lazaryan said...

Eric, I think he was referring to the Ramsey County compost/transfer site in Maplewood. The government ran and controlled the compost site..the agent orange was used by hte government to reduce the amount of compost since they were ten times over the limit.

The government is the criminal in this case.

Nancy Lazaryan

6:57 PM  

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