Freeway Landfill deal clears way for costly, state-funded cleanup

- The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency has reached an agreement with the Freeway Landfill in Burnsville, Minn. that will move the site into the state’s Closed Landfill Program and open the door to future development. The deal is a big win for the city of Burnsville, but state taxpayers will cover the costly cleanup, which is estimated to exceed $60 million.

The cleanup plan involves digging up the garbage and contaminated soil from the landfill along Intestate 35, then dumping the waste at a new site with a protective lining.

A binding agreement, much like the closing of a home purchase, is expected to be signed by the end of February.

The Environment Protection Agency had taken control of the site after negotiations between the MPCA and Freeway Landfill property owner Michael McGowan failed to meet deadlines. 

Summary of the MPCA-Freeway Landfill agreement

The state will take over the management of the old landfill protect human health and the environment.

The state will remove the future responsibility of the site from Freeway Landfill and others that disposed of waste at the site (private businesses, public entities, and entities) as an alternative to the Superfund program.

The state will construct a lined facility for the buried waste to be placed in to protect human health and the environment.

Freeway Landfill will transfer land to the state for the lined facility and a buffer around it.

The clean up around the transfer station (about 12 acres) will be paid for using non-bond dollars and scheduled in a way to allow for the continued operation of the transfer station.  This includes the construction of basic roads to the transfer station and Freeway's Quarry.

The remainder of the project will be paid for using bonding dollars, which will prevent a portion of the property retained by Freeway Landfill from being used for private purposes for 37.5 years after the project is completed.

Freeway Landfill will be responsible for replacing the berm made of garbage that surrounds the transfer station and replace any buildings or equipment that needs to be removed if we need to get waste or contaminated soils underneath them. 

Freeway Landfill will also be responsible for filling with clean fill in the areas where the waste was removed from that stays in its ownership (i.e. it will need to fill the hole left behind in order for it to develop the property in the future).

If non-bonding dollars are not secured from the Legislature to allow for the continuation of the transfer station after the 2018 legislative session, Freeway Landfill may opt out of the agreement.

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