Word about riverfront dumpsite, Area C, starting to spread

by Colleen O'Connor Toberman
Three people stand talking around a table outdoors at Hidden Falls Park.

FMR staff and volunteers spoke with visitors at Hidden Falls Park just south of the Area C dumpsite at National Public Lands Day in September. (Photo by Margie O'Laughlin)

While many Twin Cities residents are aware of the pending redevelopment of the Ford Motor Company's former assembly plant in the Highland Park neighborhood of St. Paul, fewer people know about Area C.

Area C is a waste dump on the floodplain of the Mississippi River below the bluff near the assembly plant. Ford dumped unknown quantities of toxic industrial waste, such as solvents and paint sludge, onto Area C from the 1940s to 1960s and then covered the toxic pile with construction rubble. (Learn more about Area C.)

With the Ford redevelopment in the spotlight, FMR and its partners, including the Capitol Region Watershed District, have been advocating that the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) require Ford to conduct better monitoring of the ground and surface water at this riverfront dump just north of Hidden Falls Park.

Ford has recently agreed to conduct some of the additional monitoring we've requested. The results of that monitoring will inform a feasibility study of different site cleanup options ranging from "no action" to a complete removal of the waste pile.

Snapshot of newspaper article

Neighborhood newspapers spread the word

Two community newspapers in riverfront neighborhoods, the Midway Como Monitor and Longfellow Nokomis Messenger, recently published an article by Margie O'Laughlin about Area C.

The article notes, "The location of Area C has been public information for years. The dumpsite looks benign, more neglected than threatening. It is covered with concrete, soil, and scrub vegetation. However, its contents are lesser known and almost impossible to quantify... It's unknown whether concentration levels are safe for human health or the environment."

Ford Area C is just north of Hidden Falls ans across from Minnehaha Falls parks.

Reaching park users

This fall, FMR staff and volunteers have also been reaching out to people enjoying the two popular parks adjacent to and across from the dumpsite: Hidden Falls to the south and Minnehaha Falls across the river. 

Many parkgoers  who came from throughout the metro area — were eager to learn about the dump and sign up for e-mail updates

We're grateful to BareBones Productions for helping us inform thousands of event attendees about Area C at their annual Halloween pageant at Hidden Falls Park. The performing arts nonprofit not only donated ad space in their printed program to raise awareness of the riverfront dumpsite but welcomed FMR to speak with attendees. 

Get involved

At the request of FMR and its partners, the MPCA will be hosting a public meeting this winter to share more information about Area C. We'd love to have you join us! 

If you'd like to be notified when the meeting date has been scheduled and to receive other occasional Area C updates, please let us know

For more information about Area C in general, please visit fmr.org/ford or contact Colleen O'Connor Toberman, River Corridor Program Director, at ctoberman@fmr.org or 651.222.2193 x29.