BURNSVILLE, Minn. (KMSP) - A deal to cleanup and eventually redevelop the Freeway Landfill off Interstate 35W in Burnsville, Minn. has fallen apart, meaning the contaminated site will likely languish with the Environmental Protection Agency for decades to come. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency said Thursday it will be requesting the EPA to begin the Superfund process.
Putting the Freeway Landfill on the Superfund list means anyone who contributed trash to the landfill is responsible for the cost of the cleanup. The attempts to track down and collect payments from trash haulers, businesses and governments will likely result in multiple lawsuits and an even bigger final cost.
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In January, the MPCA announced an agreement with Freeway Landfill property owner Michael McGowan that would keep the site off the Superfund list and move it into the state’s Closed Landfill Program, opening the door to future development. The negotiated cleanup plan involved digging up the garbage and contaminated soil from the landfill, then dumping the waste at a new site with a protective lining. The deal was a good one for the city of Burnsville, but one that came with a more than $60 million price tag for Minnesota taxpayers.
“It is unfortunate the next steps could not be completed. However, after years of working on a resolution utilizing the Closed Landfill Program it is now clear it is not achievable,” MPCA assistant commissioner Kirk Koudelka said in a letter to McGowan.” Under these circumstances, I have reluctantly concluded that the Superfund process is our only remaining avenue to ensure Freeway Landfill is cleaned up and does not pose a future environmental or human health risk to neighboring communities.”
Groundwater testing and computer modeling conducted last summer found contaminants like chromium, cobalt, copper, and chloride that could leak into the groundwater and the Minnesota River. The groundwater is safe, for now. The problem is a quarry next door, located below the landfill. The Kramer Quarry pumps out millions of gallons of ground water every day. When it closes in a few years, and becomes a lake, the water table is predicted to rise, soaking into the trash above
The Freeway Landfill closed more than 25 years ago. The site is located on 140 acres in Burnsville, and drivers on I-35W can see it west of the freeway along the Minnesota River.