Golf Course Contamination

Our partner, Braun Intertec, provided background information on the history of contamination at Hillcrest Golf Course.

Historical Use of Mercury-Based Products

The mercury-impacts identified at Hillcrest Golf Course are from historical use of mercury-containing fungicides and other turf management agricultural products commonly used on golf courses in the past. These products were widely used across the United States and Canada, particularly in northern climates, to protect against seasonal, mold-related, turf problems.

Use of mercury-containing products on golf courses dates back to the 1950s and continued into the 1990s. These products were routinely applied to greens and/or other golf course areas, multiple times per year, using industry standard practices and applicable product label information. Since mercury in this form is relatively immobile, the result was elevated mercury concentrations in shallow soil, primarily the upper 12,” where the product was applied.

In Minnesota, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) has jurisdiction over environmental impacts resulting from products used for agricultural purposes, including golf course turf management. The MDA does not consider mercury-impacted soil on golf courses to be “a release” because the agricultural-related products were used as intended.  So in the case of Hillcrest Golf Course, the mercury is not considered to have been dumped or caused by a “polluter” or “responsible party” that requires regulatory enforcement or other special action.

However, as a practical matter, the MDA would expect  mercury impacts to be properly cleaned-up should the property change use in the future. When conducted, such cleanups are designed to ensure the remaining soil meets standards that are consistent with the future use of the property.