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Shell Oil asks city if it can test soils at park

Shell Oil has asked the Alexandria City Council if it can search for petroleum hydrocarbons that may have leaked from an old bulk plant on the site that's now Martin's Hope Park.

Shell Oil has asked the Alexandria City Council if it can search for petroleum hydrocarbons that may have leaked from an old bulk plant on the site that's now Martin's Hope Park.

The park is located at 217 3rd Avenue East near Big Ole Central Park.

In a letter to the city, Shell Oil said that the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) is requesting the company to monitor the site and take remediate action, if necessary.

The work at the park, according to the letter, may include installing monitoring wells, periodically checking the wells, testing, inspections, borings, engineering studies, surveys, appraisals, environmental studies, remediation operations and other activities that "Shell deems necessary to comply with all applicable federal, state and local regulations...governing underground storage tanks systems."

Any monitoring wells would be capped at grade level and the property would be restored to its former condition, the company said.

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City Administrator Jim Taddei said the company told him the work would create only minor disruptions at the park. A Shell spokesperson told Taddei it would take 24 to 48 hours to do the work and that the company would remove all the equipment.

The council was reluctant to grant Shell's request as presented.

Council member Owen Miller said that he wanted to make sure that the city would be held harmless if the company finds anything hazardous underground.

Council member Virgil Batesole said that if a test well is installed, it means that the company would be returning to the park periodically to check the results.

Miller made a motion for Shell to provide a more detailed written description of what it plans to do at the site and how long the entire process would take. He added that the city should have written assurances that it won't be responsible for any future expenses associated with the testing.

The council approved the motion on a 5-0 vote.

Al Edenloff is the editor of the twice-weekly Echo Press. He started his journalism career when he was in 10th grade, writing football and basketball stories for the Parkers Prairie Independent.
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