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Under-used or Polluted Land
January 2010

The way land was used in the past can make it unhealthy for people. Land may become polluted or contaminated by chemical spills or leaks. A ‘brownfield’ is land or property that stays vacant or unused because it is either contaminated or seems to be contaminated.

Brownfields and Health
Brownfields may have contamination in old buildings, soil, or in water in the ground underneath the surface. There can also be physical dangers like broken windows. Action should be taken to prevent health problems if people can come into contact with the chemical contamination and the amount of chemical contamination is high enough to potentially make someone sick. Concerns about dangers to health or clean-up costs may discourage property owners from redeveloping the land. Once hazards in a brownfield are identified, city planners, public health workers, and the community can work together to create a plan to address the contamination. Community participation, including neighborhood organizations, schools, and residents, is important to help planners understand how best to develop a new use for the land. Changing an old industrial site into a playground, park, farmers’ market, or cultural center can have great benefit for people’s health.

Counting Brownfields in the Central Corridor
The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) keeps track of many different types of contaminated land. If contamination has been discovered, the MPCA also makes sure that it is either cleaned up or people are protected from the contamination. The MPCA Web site has “What’s in My Neighborhood” maps that show where different types of land contamination are found in Minnesota. The types include: high priority clean-up areas on state and national Superfund lists, voluntary investigation and clean-up sites, petroleum tank leak sites, and sites where solid waste disposal or demolition has lead to contamination. The Metropolitan Council has also identified a set of “high priority” sites for investigation.

What the Information Shows
According to MPCA data, over 20% of Minnesota’s known or possible (non-petroleum) contaminated sites are in the Twin Cities. Seven percent of Minnesota’s contaminated sites are located within the Central Corridor area. The information shows that areas along University Avenue have more possible brownfield sites than other areas of the Twin Cities. (Click on map for a larger image.

Printable information sheet, with map: Under-used or Polluted Land (PDF:255KB/2 pages)

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Click on the map below for a larger image

map of central corridor brownfield locations near St. Paul, MN


Updated Thursday, January 30, 2014 at 03:21PM