We removed remnants of a historic manufactured gas plant in St. Cloud, Minnesota.
We completed a project to excavate foundations, piping and any impacted soil leftover from a former Manufactured Gas Plant (MGP) that once operated from about 1910 to 1949, primarily on the southwest corner of 5th Avenue North and 2nd Street North in St. Cloud.
Excavation work began in June 2019 and was completed in August 2019. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency approved the project, which was done under the agency's oversight and followed its standards.
Our company has provided natural gas and electric service to hundreds of communities for more than a century in the eight Western and Midwestern states where we operate. At times, we have needed to investigate and remediate legacy MGP sites, similar to the St. Cloud MGP. We have a successful track record managing these projects. In the past, state and local officials responsible for overseeing and evaluating this work have positively recognized our efforts.
While removing the substation previously located at 127 5th Avenue North in St. Cloud, we found soil impacts on our property. We promptly sampled the soil and the results indicated elevated concentrations of materials consistent with a historic MGP that once operated on the property during the early 1900s.
We reported the findings to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, and under the agency’s oversight, further investigated site conditions. The additional investigation confirmed the presence of material from the former MGP and led to the removal of project.
We are committed to protecting public health and the environment, and through this investigation, have no indication or reason to believe that there is any public exposure or impacts beyond the property boundaries.
A manufactured gas plant or MGP used large brick ovens to heat coal and other ingredients to provide heating and lighting similar to how natural gas is used today. As the fuels were heated, they produced gases that were filtered from the ovens, stored in tanks and distributed by a network of pipelines throughout the community.
The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that thousands of MGP sites operated in the United States between 1815 and the 1960s. By the 1950s, MGP production declined as natural gas infrastructure was built across the country and the historic MGPs were closed — sometimes leaving materials and byproducts behind, such as coal tar, oil and ash or cinders. Coal tar — one of the most predominant byproducts from MGPs — was often sold and reused for fuel, roofing and road resurfacing. MGP byproducts could also be found in other household items including dyes and even cough syrup.
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