Friday, March 12, 2010

Cleaning Up the Mess at Ken's Metal Finishing

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...


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?


Johnny Northside! said...

I actually wrote about this back in 2008.

Glad to see it is finally cleaned up. Now we need to plant something there. Obviously, whatever gets planted there will have to be very tough.

The Hawthorne Hawkman said...

Oh, did I mention that he owed over $10,000 in back taxes BEFORE the contamination was discovered? I believe I left that little nugget out of the initial post.

Johnny Northside said...

Comment rejected from a known troll.

Anonymous said...

that another set of "benefits" from the unfettered marketplace of capitalism

Kevin said...

So much for the notion that government and government regulations are always BAD, BAD, BAD and the private, business sector is the answer to all our problems.

Just a thought..

la_vie_en_rose said...

Wow, I haven't thought about that movie in years. Speaking of which, it's too bad that we don't have a real Captain Planet (or at least some Planeteers with the nifty elemental rings) for situations such as this.

On a more serious note, a thousand dollar fine for hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages to the community? Yeah, that sure is justice. Geez!

I wish I could say that it's the first time I've heard of something like that, but sadly, it isn't. A town where I used to work in Indiana had a similar site that belonged to General Electric. Lots of hazardous waste was left behind in the decrepit factory, and the place stood like an eyesore for many years until someone finally tore it down a couple of years ago. Supposedly, chemicals had soaked into the ground around there for years, so who knows what kind of damage it did. As far as I know, GE was never fined for letting it get into such a horrible condition.

Anonymous said...

Ken shood be strung up by heez balls.

Anonymous said...

"Comment rejected from a known troll."

Aren't trolls fictional characters?

Or is it censorship with a hint of embittered bias?

Anonymous said...

Yeah and how about the Andover man who stole millions from people with his ponzi scheme in todays paper? The recommended sentence is 23 months. What a joke that is and the poor fella is getting 3 times the recommended sentence. Oh how cruel. I am so sick of bad business people getting away with this crap and just screw us worker bee's.
MCullen NE

Anonymous said...

That brings up a good point. Unlike the StarTribune i've always prided this blog because they post ALL comments and don't pick and choose. I understand there may be some comments you receive that you don't like and would prefer people not see but it reduces the creditibility of TAJN when we see "Comments Removed" like the StarTribune does. Must my 2cents.

Johnny Northside said...

Yes, this blog posts the vast majority of comments (including harshly critical comments) but known trolls are not welcome here, and they usually have plenty of other outlets for their venom, anyway.

The Star Tribune also posts the vast majority of comments, so I don't really have a beef with the Strib and what they post.