The site is located just off of the Mississippi River, in St. Paul’s Highland Park neighborhood. Until its closure in 2011, the St. Paul plant was the longest-operating Ford manufacturing facility in the world, having first opened its doors in 1925.
The St. Paul site will require some amount of cleanup before the land can be repurposed, according to Minnesota Pollution Control Agency Hydrogeologist Amy Hadiaris, due to dozens of scattered zones with significant contamination. For instance, the former Ford plant employee parking lot contains high level of hydrocarbons, and a former dump site at the south end of the property might be the most troublesome spot.
“That’s an area where, back in the day, wastes were disposed of directly in the ground, maybe burned, buried,” says Hadiaris. “And so that represents an area where there’s that hydrocarbon, solvent contamination and also some heavy metals, specifically lead is the main one.”
But ultimately, the site of the former Ford Twin Cities Assembly is prime real estate, located between the downtown areas of St. Paul and Minneapolis, and its environmental issues can be remedied. “We’ve still got a couple of other reports coming in, but things are looking pretty good,” Hadiaris says. “And certainly a site that can be cleaned up and put to whatever use the community and the city wants to see happen.”
Ford Director of Global Real Estate Services Rob Cory says that the automaker plans to clean up the former Twin Cities plant site itself, rather than bring in a contractor. Ford has already started to dig up tainted soil to haul away for proper disposal, although the company’s cleanup effort might take until 2019.