Post and photos by the Hawthorne Hawkman
Last week, while driving around the neighborhood, I happened across some workers spraying an odd, green substance over the (formerly) contaminated site of Ken's Metal Finishing on 23rd and Emerson. I stopped to get a few pictures and asked the workers what they knew about the site, which turned out to be very little. They were just out there doing a job; spray the ground with this concoction, and in the spring, green grass will grow.
I first became familiar with this property when I was fairly new to the neighborhood and got a call about...
...people in HAZMAT SUITS for God's sake, RIGHT HERE IN OUR NEIGHBORHOOD!
The big question seemed to be, if they're wearing those things, then what's happening? What about the rest of us?
For people unfamiliar with the whole story, once upon a time there was a very lazy man named Kenneth LaCroix. Kenneth opened a business called Ken's Metal Finishing. Ken's store specialized in things such as custom chrome motorcycle parts and bluing gun barrels. But Ken had one small problem. This process created all these gosh-darned CHEMICALS, like oh gee, concentrated CYANIDE. What do do???
Ken faced a dilemma: disposing of these chemicals properly requires following the LAW and spending money on someone other than himself. On the other hand, if you just let the stuff sit around for a few decades, that can't be good for the neighborhood or the environment.
Needless to say, Kenneth LaCroix DID NOT dispose of things properly. Approximately ONE HUNDRED EIGHTY barrels of various toxins were removed from the site. And guess who has to pay for it? Everybody in Minnesota who ever has a mortgage recorded. There is a mortgage deed tax that is so obscure even I don't want to explain it, but those funds are dedicated to such environmental cleanup.
So Ken's building was pretty much falling apart from disrepair and toxic sludge (and not the cool kind that could make a boy blind but give him super senses and the ability to fight ninjas) when the hazmat crew came in. They cleared out the mess, demolished the building, and dug FIFTEEN FEET deep to remove toxins from the ground.
At last count, this whole process cost - are you ready for this? - SIX HUNDRED THOUSAND DOLLARS! Reportedly, it's doubtful LaCroix has any resources to pay towards this, which is awfully convenient. But fear not, for causing this much environmental damage and taxpayer cost has a SERIOUS fine of...$1,000. Which LaCroix has already paid. So justice has been served right? Where's this guy when you need him?