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Congressional District # 08


EPA ID# MND980898068
Last Updated: June, 2015

Site Description

The Agate Lake Scrap Yard site covers approximately eight acres on the southwest shore of Agate Lake in a rural area of Fairview Township, Cass County, Minnesota.  Agate Lake is a small lake located just west of the larger Gull Lake.  The closest towns are Lake Shore, located about three miles north on Gull Lake, and the City of Brainerd, located about six miles southeast.  The site is surrounded on three sides by open water or wetlands and is about 10 feet above water level.  The site is also surrounded by the Pillsbury State Forest, which is primarily wooded and is used for hunting and other recreational uses.  Several dozen homes, a small resort, and a golf course are located across the lake from the site.  Residents in the area obtain their drinking water from private wells.

The Agate Lake Scrap Yard operated from 1952 to 1982 as a scrap yard for buying and selling scrap iron and metal, and used cars.  During the 1970's, the scrap included lead batteries, drums of solvents and oils, and a large number of transformers.  Two homemade furnaces were used to smelt aluminum, copper, and lead at the site.  Transformer oils and halogenated-solvents were used to fuel the furnace and sometimes were spilled onto the ground.  There were three ash piles onsite and an open dump area which contained trash.  

Site Responsibility

This site was addressed through State of Minnesota and potentially responsible party (PRP) actions. The site is part of the United States Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) Enforcement Deferral Pilot Project and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) was the primary agency managing enforcement and cleanup of the site.

Threats and Contaminants

The soil was contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), dioxins/furans and lead.  Shallow groundwater was contaminated with low levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), including trichloroethylene (TCE), benzene, toluene, and methylene chloride.

Cleanup Progress

The site was listed on the Minnesota Permanent List of Priorities (PLP) in 1984 and on EPA's National Priorities List (NPL) in 1986.  In 1983, before the site was listed on the NPL, the PRPs removed transformers containing oils and drums of waste solvents and liquids from the site.  Two furnaces were also dismantled, and approximately 300 cubic yards of contaminated soil were excavated from the main transformer storage area.  The removed topsoil was deposited in an onsite gully and indentified as a microbiological cell, suggesting that biological degradation of PCBs and oil would occur.  Areas where soils had been removed were backfilled with six inches of clean topsoil, and then seeded with rye grass.

In 1985, MPCA performed a Remedial Investigation and Feasibility Study (RI/FS) at the site.  In 1986, the state issued a Unilateral Administrative Order (UAO), compelling the PRPs to perform the investigation and feasibility study.  Based on the data and analyses, MPCA and EPA recommended the following actions:  removing 260 tons of lead-contaminated ash, slag and soil; removing 200 tons of PCB-contaminated soil; removing three cubic yards of pipe insulation containing asbestos; regular groundwater monitoring at the site; and placing a deed restriction on the site that prohibits well installation in the area where groundwater contamination has been found.

In 1992 and 1993, MPCA issued Requests for Interim Response Actions to address all of the above actions, with the exception of groundwater monitoring and and deed restrictions.  The PRPs agreed to pay for and perform this work.  The slag and ash pile work was completed in 1992.  The PCB- and lead-contaminated soil work was completed in 1993.  The cleanup levels applicable to the soils were 300 parts per million (ppm) of lead and 1 ppm PCBs.  The slag and ash pile, as well as the soil contaminated with lead, were placed in a permited chemical waste landfill in Indiana, where they were stabilized to prevent leaching of lead.  The soils contanining PCBs above 50 ppm were disposed of at a permitted Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) landfill in Utah, while soil with PCBs below 50 ppm were disposed of in an industrial landfill in Rosemount, Minnesota.  The asbestos was also disposed of at the facility in Rosemount, Minnesota.

In 1994, a final remedy decision was signed by MPCA, with EPA's concurrence, to document final response actions for the site.  MPCA selected continued monitoring of shallow groundwater, installation of additional monitoring wells, and placement of deed restrictions on the property.  Four additional monitoring wells were installed in 1994.  A health risk advisory was issued to the residents, recommending that they do not use well water for drinking.  Removal of garbage, iron, and other scrap was accomplished in 1996.  Ongoing monitoring showed groundwater contamination levels below health-based goals.  

This site was deleted from the NPL on August 1, 1997.  Five-Year Reviews are not conducted for this site because no hazardous waste was left in place. 


Remedial Project Manager, U.S. EPA
leah evison (evison.leah@epa.gov)
(312) 886-2064

Community Involvement Coordinator, U.S. EPA
cheryl allen
(312) 353-6196




Site Profile Information

This profile provides you with information on EPA's cleanup progress at this Superfund site.


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