Douglas Corp to pay $1.37 million for contaminating 3 metro area lakes with ‘forever chemicals’

A sign for Bde Maka Ska beach in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (FOX 9)

The Douglas Corporation has agreed to pay $1.37 million through a natural resource damages settlement agreement for its role in contaminating three metro area lakes with "forever chemicals," the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and the Department of Natural Resources said Wednesday.

The agencies said damages to the lakes were caused by releases of per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and hexavalent chromium, which contaminated Bass Lake in St. Louis Park, and Bde Maka Ska and Lake Harriet in Minneapolis. Douglas Corp’s chrome-plating facility in St. Louis Park has been known to use both substances and is believed to be the source of the contamination. 

PFOS was first detected in Bde Maka Ska in 2004 and the state health department later issued fish consumption advisories due to the chemicals being present in fish. 

In 2010, Douglas Corp. began taking preventative measures to keep PFAS from leaving its facility and stopped using PFOS, the agencies said. 

Bde Maka Ska and Lake Harriet remain on the state’s impaired waters list. However, water quality is improving. PFOS levels in largemouth bass from Bde Maka Ska fell about 90% between 2008 and 2021, the agencies said. Health officials continue to recommend limiting fish consumption from the affected lakes due to PFOS. 

The agencies said at least $1 million of the settlement money will be used to fund water quality improvement projects, fisheries and outdoor recreational opportunities. The areas that will be eligible for settlement-funded projects is located east of Highway 169 within the Minnehaha Creek lower watershed and is not limited to the affected lakes.