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'Forever Chemicals' Force Woodbury To Remove Another Water Well

Patch logo Patch 3 days ago Jason Addy
City officials said they immediately removed the well and emphasized that “Woodbury’s drinking water continues to meet state and federal standards and guidelines for PFAS.” © Morgan Reddekopp/Patch City officials said they immediately removed the well and emphasized that “Woodbury’s drinking water continues to meet state and federal standards and guidelines for PFAS.”

WOODBURY, MN — A Woodbury municipal well was taken out of service Wednesday after state officials issued a health advisory for the water it was producing, according to city officials.

The Minnesota Department of Health issued the advisory after traces of PFAS — per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances — in the well’s water exceeded the department’s thresholds.

City officials said they immediately removed the well and emphasized that “Woodbury’s drinking water continues to meet state and federal standards and guidelines for PFAS.”

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Officials did warn, however, that health advisories could be issued for more Woodbury water wells due to PFAS levels. Any well that receives a health advisory will be immediately removed from service, according to the city.

Utilities Director Jim Westerman told the Twin Cities Pioneer Press he does not expect the latest well removal to trigger a water shortage, as it should be fixed by summer.

PFAS, also known as perfluorochemicals, are often called “forever chemicals” because they do not break down in the environment. Prolonged exposure to PFAS can lead to negative health effects, including kidney and thyroid problems and cancer, MPR reported.

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The PFAS in Woodbury’s groundwater have been traced back to PFAS that were made at 3M’s Cottage Grove facility for almost 60 years until 2002 and disposed of at multiple sites in Washington County.

Solid waste, industrial solvents and acids from 3M’s Cottage Grove and St. Paul manufacturing facilities were disposed of at a site in Woodbury located along the city’s border with Cottage Grove, according to the Minnesota Department of Health.

Woodbury and Cottage Grove residents also used that site to dump municipal waste, including household, automotive and construction debris, health officials said.

Six of Woodbury’s 19 municipal water wells were closed in 2019 due to pollution, with a seventh closed in January 2020, the Twin Cities Pioneer Press reports.

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Four were returned to service in June 2020 with assistance from a new, temporary water treatment plant, but three remain closed, according to officials.

Woodbury crews are working to bring another PFAS-polluted well back into service by expanding capacity at a temporary water treatment plant near the intersection of Valley Creek Road and Tower Drive.

The temporary treatment plant could be required for more than five years as the city works to build a long-term treatment facility, officials said.

Woodbury bought a parcel of land south of Hargis Parkway and east of Radio Drive, on which officials plan to build a permanent facility to treat the city’s water for PFAS.

Construction is expected to start in 2023 or 2024, officials said.

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Minnesota reached a $850 million settlement agreement with 3M in February 2018, with about $700 million to be directed to mitigate PFAS in drinking water in the East Twin Cities Metro.

Woodbury officials are working to have most of the costs for the permanent facility funded through the settlement agreement.

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