Blue Earth Art Center – Customer Spotlight

Published January 2020

Blue Earth Chemical Clean-Out

Jenna Johnson of Blue Earth, MN discusses the chemical clean-out project with The Retrofit Companies, Inc.
Jenna Johnson

TRC is excited to share this chemical clean-out story from Blue Earth, Minnesota. We connected with Jenna Johnson, a music teacher with dreams of opening a local art center, to discuss her recent building acquisition. She was faced with the challenge of safely eliminating the mysterious hazardous waste that she inherited with the purchase of a vacant building. In a community desperate for resources and a space for children and teachers to learn and teach the arts, Jenna was “panicking” when trying to identify and dispose of years worth of waste hiding in her new art center.

“I had so many questions. They [TRC] have just been awesome. Basically I just signed the papers and they took care of everything else.” – Jenna Johnson, Blue Earth Art Center

Jenna and her husband purchased a large building in Blue Earth, MN ready to put in a lot of elbow grease as the building had been left vacant for over 5 years. When the couple started assessing the various storage areas in their new building, they soon realized that the former occupants, a printing company, left them with thousands of gallons of mystery waste. At first glance, Jenna hoped she could pack up these barrels and containers and bring them to the local Hazardous Waste drop-off, however the quantity was simply too much for a local drop-off to handle. This Blue Earth, MN facility really needed a proper chemical clean-out, assessment and guidance on environmental compliance for businesses.

Blue Earth Community Art Center chemical clean-out with The Retrofit Companies, Inc.
This vacant building was hiding years worth of chemical waste.

A TRC customer recommended us to Jenna, and quickly after she got in touch with our Environmental Expert Michelle Gwin, she was “put at ease.” Jenna had no idea how extensive the environmental issues and hazards were in this facility, not to mention how many steps had to be taken to safely and properly clean out this waste. There are extensive environmental requirements for businesses. Our Environmental Services team took the time to educate and explain exactly what needed to be done, helping this new business owner through the entire process and ensuring compliance. With properties that have been left vacant and unidentified waste has built up over the years, it is important for a team of experts to come in and identify what we are working with, and to take every safety precaution to move carefully through the clean out process.

“We bought this huge building. When we signed the contract “as is”…I had no idea. It was in really bad shape.” – Jenna Johnson

After completing this thorough chemical clean out in Blue Earth, Jenna was able to safely return to her renovation project throughout her new facility. With a long list of projects ahead of her, she was relieved to find a partner in TRC that not only knew exactly how to help her, but also educated her as a new business owner regarding safety regulations for universal and hazardous wastes.

Mysterious Chemicals

Large volumes of chemical waste were disposed of during this chemical clean-out in Blue Earth, MN

TRC’s crew successfully removed multiple pallets of waste from Jenna’s building, along with decommissioning a 1,000 gallon above ground tank that needed to be removed. It was important to Jenna that everything was done properly; our lab pack team came in to package everything to DOT standards and ship it off-site.

The majority of the waste that was removed were old printing press products, including ink, cleaners, sealers etc. There were a significant number of 5 gallon buckets, as well as 15-20 55 gallon drums of various supplementary chemicals.



Above ground tank that required decomissioning during the chemical clean-out in Blue Earth, MN

The 1,000 gallon above-ground storage tank was roughly 1/3 full of black ink. The process lines to and from the storage tank were also full and required cleaning. Cleaning out the piping is a very specialized process a requires an expert team.

By making the decision to call an Environmental Expert like TRC, Jenna learned about properly managing hazardous waste and now has a partner in TRC for future projects. We are grateful for this opportunity to help Jenna, and are excited to see her art center develop!