This Fact Sheet Will
Tell You About:

The background of the

•	Cleanup acti vities
conducted in the fall

•	When the cleanup will

•	What the future cleanup
activities will involve.

•	How to get more

United States	Office of Pub lie Affairs	Illinois, Indiana

Environmental Protection Region 5	Michigan, Minnesota

Agency	77 West Jackson Boulevard	Ohio, Wisconsin

Chicago, Illinois 60604-3590

Western Mineral Products Site

Cleanup to Resume	in Spring

Minneapolis, Minnesota	February 2001

Tape barricades the working area at a resident's home in Minneapolis.


The United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) has been
conducting cleanup activities in the northeast portions of Minneapolis as a
result of asbestos contamination at the Western Mineral Products site. This
fact sheet explains the site background and summarizes site activities to date.
It also describes potential exposures and explains how residents can contact

Site Background

The Western Mineral Products site is composed of industrial property in
northeast Minneapolis at 1720 Madison Street and 1815 Jefferson Street in
Hennepin County, Minnesota, and surrounding residential properties. The
industrial site is bordered on the north by Electramatic, Inc., on the east by
Burlington Northern & Santa Fe railroad tracks, on the west by Jefferson
Street, and on the south by a commercial complex.

Western Mineral Products, Inc. was purchased by W.R. Grace Co. in 1963 to
manufacture vermiculite insulation from vermiculite ore that was mined in
Libby, Montana. The Minneapolis facility operated from the late 1930s to the

late 1980s. During operations, piles of waste
vermiculite rock were placed outside the facility. This
rock was offered to anyone, free of charge. Residents
in Logan Park and other neighborhoods may have used
this material for driveway or yard fill, in pet
enclosures, gardens, barbeque pits, children's sand
boxes, or carried it in the trunks of their cars for
traction in the snow. Unfortunately, the vermiculite
ore from Libby was found to contain high levels of
tremolite asbestos. The waste material, "crushed rock"
or "stoner rock," also contains high levels of asbestos.

In 1990, W.R. Grace allegedly conducted a removal of
all material stored in two on-site silos. Currently, the
site is owned by the firm of Madison Complex and
leased to Panel Specialities, Inc., which manufactures
prison furniture.

Site Activities

In February 2000, U.S. EPA conducted a site
assessment of the former Western Mineral Products
site. The interior and exterior portions of the building
were inspected. Samples taken from outside the
building contained asbestos.

In April 2000, U.S. EPA representatives conducted
additional sampling of surface soils near the facility
that appeared to have visual evidence of vermiculite or
asbestos. At that time, there was a recently excavated
trench along the western edge of the facility where a
new electrical transformer was to be installed. U.S.
EPA observed an unusual layer of what appeared to be
vermiculite two feet below the surface in the trench.
Samples collected on the facility property contained
asbestos. At about this time, the first public meeting
about asbestos and vermiculite was hosted by the City
of Minneapolis. Currently, owners of the industrial
site (Madison Complex) are participating in a
voluntary cleanup program under the direction of the
Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.

In June and August 2000, U.S. EPA collected
residential samples. The U.S. EPA team began a
walkthrough of the residential area within a '/4-mile
radius of the site. The team attempted to contact
residents of homes where suspect asbestos-containing
material was visible. Residents were asked about the
possibility of the transfer of material from the Western
Mineral Products facility to their premises.

In September 2000, U.S. EPA representatives were
available to talk with residents about vermiculite
processed at Western Mineral Products, Inc.
Informational pamphlets were delivered to
approximately 400 residents. Phone numbers were
provided to residents who wanted to schedule an
appointment with U.S. EPA for a visual inspection of
their property. U.S. EPA conducted approximately
100 environmental assessment interviews in the Logan
Park neighborhood. Findings of asbestos
contamination in public areas, such as alleyways and
streets, and increased public concern have served to
increase the area of investigation to include
approximately one square mile.

In October 2000, U.S. EPA established a field office in
the Logan Park neighborhood near the industrial site.
The office served as a command post for the cleanup
activities. Through facts sheets, an October 11, 2000,
public meeting, and two informal open houses,
residents have been urged to contact U.S. EPA if
asbestos contamination is suspected. A local U.S. EPA
hotline (612-706-0615) was established at the site. A
total of 313 residences have been inspected to date.
Of the 313 residences inspected, 244 require no further
action, 23 are targeted for further soil sampling, 25 are
targeted for spring cleanup, and 21 residential
properties have already been cleaned up. The cleanup
involved vacuuming alleys behind the asbestos-
contaminated residential properties with a high-
powered vacuum system and excavating soil from
residential properties with visible asbestos. During
these activities, the work area and neighborhood air
was monitored. Of the 21 residences cleaned up, 16
alleys/residential properties were vacuumed. Soil on
all 21 residential properties was excavated and
restored. Twelve residences will be revisited in spring
2001 in order to excavate contaminated lawn areas that
could not be restored in the fall due to cold weather.

Asbestos Exposure

People who work in industries that use asbestos or
asbestos-containing products, such as construction
material, may breathe fibers into their lungs. In
addition, people who live or work near asbestos-
related operations may inhale asbestos fibers that enter
the air through releases of materials into the air. Some
asbestos fibers are so small they invisibly float in the
air. People may also swallow asbestos if they eat in


areas where there are asbestos fibers in the air.

People who have the waste vermiculite material from
the Western Mineral Products site, or other
vermiculite-processing facilities, on their property
may be exposed to asbestos. The amount of asbestos
a person is exposed to will vary according to the
number of fibers that are in the air and how long a
person breathes the air containing the fibers.

Some people exposed to asbestos have health
problems; some do not. After asbestos fibers are
inhaled, they can easily enter body tissues. The fibers
may become trapped in airways and lung tissue.
Diseases related to asbestos may not show up until
years later. Today, health problems are showing up in
people who worked with asbestos during World War
II. If you believe you have asbestos-containing
material on your property grounds, you should
contact a U.S. EPA representative through the toll-
free number listed on the back page.

The Next Step

U.S. EPA will not be conducting any inspections or
excavations during the winter months due to expected
weather conditions. The U.S. EPA local hotline (612-
706-0615) will remain open for citizens to call to
request property inspections to be conducted in the
spring. Site activities will resume in spring 2001 with
additional residential cleanups and residential
inspections as necessary.

Mailing List

If you did not receive this fact sheet by mail, you are not on U.S. EPA's mailing list for the Western
Mineral Products site. To add your name to the mailing list to receive future information concerning the
site, please fill out this form, detach, and mail to:

Mr. Stuart Hill

Community Involvement Coordinator
Office of Public Affairs (P-19J)

U.S. EPA Region 5
77 West Jackson Boulevard
Chicago, IL 60604-3590




City	State	Zip	

For More Information
Information Repository

Western Mineral Products site
technical documents and
information about the Superfund
process are available for review
in the local information
repository listed below:

Minneapolis Public Library Northeast
2200 Central Avenue Northeast
Minneapolis, MN 55418

Web Sites

U.S. EPA Web Site:
U.S. EPA Headquarters
Asbestos Page:

Contact Names

The names, addresses, and phone numbers of U.S.
EPA officials working on the Western Mineral
Products site are listed on the back page of this fact


Contact Information

For additional information about site activities or about asbestos and vermiculite, you may contact
the following:

Stuart Hill

Community Involvement Coordinator
Office of Public Affairs (P-19J)
(312) 886-0689

Cheryl Allen

Community Involvement Coordinator
Office of Public Affairs (P-19J)

Sonia Vega

On-Scene Coordinator
Office of Superfund (SE-5 J)
(312) 886-7191
vega. sonia@epa. gov

U.S. EPA Region 5
77 West Jackson Boulevard
Chicago, IL 60604-3590
(800) 621-8431 (U.S. EPA toll-free hotline)

Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR)

ATSDR Information Line (Atlanta, Georgia): (888) 42-ATSDR (1-888-422-8737)

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