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Army Agrees To Pay City For Water Contaminated By Ammunition Plant

November 26, 1987

NEW BRIGHTON, Minn. (AP) _ The Army has agreed to pay $9.1 million in damages and build and operate an $8.8 million filtration system for this city whose water supply was contaminated by chemicals from an ammunition plant.

The new system will provide clean water to New Brighton’s 25,000 residents, supplementing water drawn from new city wells.

The city was forced to dig the wells after contamination by chemicals from the Twin Cities Army Ammunition Plant was detected in 1981. The $9.1 million will cover the cost of digging the new wells to tap an untainted aquifer and legal expenses, an attorney for the city said.

The agreement, announced Wednesday, settled the largest and most expensive cleanup of hazardous wastes in Minnesota.

The settlement of the 3 1/2 -year-old lawsuit by New Brighton is part of an overall effort to clean up chemicals that contaminate ground water in and around the 2,370-acre arsenal in Arden Hills.

Although the extent of contamination is unclear, state officials estimate that it affects 20 to 30 square miles of ground water in New Brighton, Arden Hills, St. Anthony and part of Minneapolis adjoining St. Anthony. Several other lawsuits against the Army are pending.

Total cleanup cost will be at least $50 million, although the final figure depends on how much work is needed to stop the spread of contaminants and treat tainted ground water.

Most of that expense will be borne by the Army, but about one-third of the estimated $20 million cleanup cost is being borne by Honeywell Inc., which produces munitions there. The Army also is expected to spend more than $20 million to clean up chemicals that have seeped beyond the arsenal’s boundaries.

State Rep. Daniel Knuth of New Brighton said the long fight between New Brighton and the Army was a David and Goliath story. ″It’s good to see Goliath finally hit the ground,″ Knuth said.

The settlement, said New Brighton Mayor Bob Benke, resulted from the combined efforts of city and state officials and Minnesota’s congressional delegation.

Benke spoke at a news conference in New Brighton with U.S. Sen. Dave Durenberger, R-Minn., and U.S. Rep. Bruce Vento, D-Minn., whose Fourth District includes New Brighton.

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