U of M sues federal government over former gunpowder factory site

- The University of Minnesota is suing the federal government for environmental costs incurred at its UMore Park in Rosemount.

Part of the 8,000 acre site was a gunpowder factory during World War II, though after the war ended it was gifted to the University of Minnesota. In recent years, the school has conducted various environmental studies of the soil with hopes of developing it.

According to a lawsuit filed this week, the university feels the government should bear some of the environmental cost--as soil samples have found arsenic, mercury and lead contamination. DuPont, the developer and operator of the gunpowder factory, is also named in the suit.

University of Minnesota says it has spent $3 million on environmental studies, in accordance with Minnesota Pollution Control Agency standards.

In a statement to Fox 9, University spokesperson Evan Lapiska said, “Throughout this process, DuPont and the U.S. Government have been unwilling to share the costs of these efforts. Filing this lawsuit is viewed by the University as a necessary step to obtain reimbursement of its past investigation costs and help ensure that the site will be cleaned up using best practices to make it safe for future use.”

Recently, the school decided it would sell more than 3,000 acres of UMore Park, allowing it to be privately developed. Rosemount Mayor Bill Droste is eagerly awaiting the search for a developer to begin.

“We’ve been talking about it for decades and now finally coming to the end and developing something out of the ground is exciting,” said Droste, who estimates the residential arm of the development could add up to 20,000 residents by 2040.

“What the university does out here will impact us significantly,” he said.

Droste doesn’t believe the lawsuit will slow the process, as the university is still aiming to open up a Request for Proposals by the end of summer.

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