Off-campus contamination

The new stadium’s construction site is under fire for environmental violations.

Perhaps everyone is in just a little too much of a hurry to get “back to campus.” As the construction on the new on-campus football stadium surges ahead, it seems that sloppiness could be invading the worksite. This past April, a construction site inspection by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency revealed seven possible violations of environmental regulations.

The list of environmental violations could cost the University thousands of dollars, but it is most disappointing that more precautions weren’t taken. The University has been aware for some time that the site of the new stadium covers ground contaminated with pollutants. A wood-treating facility once stood where the new stadium will be built and it left behind the toxic chemical creosote (used to preserve wood). The University is working to clean up the contaminated soil, but it is especially worrisome that the MPCA reports that suspicious runoff was seen entering the Mississippi. The MPCA also cited the University for lacking filters to prevent water runoff from straying too far. The construction permit requires water to be filtered before being sent to sewers which drain into the Mississippi.

The Mississippi is certainly not the cleanest river in the world, and many chemicals are dumped into it as it travels to the Gulf of Mexico, but it is also the source of drinking water for many people and one of our state and national hydrological treasures.

It seems irresponsible and sloppy for runoff from a contaminated construction site to be flowing randomly around town. Preventing unnecessary runoff should be an important consideration under any circumstances, but the University knew that it was dealing with contaminated soil as well and extra caution should have been exhibited.

The north end of the construction site features evenly spaced yellow signs warning of the pending “environmental remediation” of the site, but it’s unclear if the University takes this seriously. The University needs to take more precautions with the stadium construction site. Sure it’s exciting to get a shiny new stadium, but please don’t give us more reasons to hate it.