6,600 drums of toxic waste to be removed from former WDE landfill in Andover

A hazardous waste landfill in Andover, Minnesota is a big step closer to getting cleaned up.

People living around the old Waste Disposal Engineering landfill are finally seeing progress after decades of wondering what kind of dangers are buried just beyond their backyards.

In the heart of Andover, hazardous waste workers are building a giant containment structure over the top of a hidden danger. In the dirt just underneath them are 6,600 drums of waste dating back to the 1970s.

“We don’t know what we’re, everything that we’re going to find in there,” said Minnesota Pollution Control Agency Commissioner Laura Bishop.  

Officials, however, do know the waste is dangerous. Since the landfill closed in 1983, an entire community has built up around it.

“We have businesses,” said Andover Mayor Julie Trude. “We have shoppers, workers, school children in the vicinity of this landfill every day. And to have this cleanup complete provides many of us piece of mind.”  

For the next six to eight weeks, hazardous waste workers will dig up the old barrels and soil from underneath the containment building. A carbon filtration system will trap and scrub any dangerous vapors coming from the waste until it is all trucked away to out-of-state storage facilities.

Crews will then backfill the hole with old trash from the surrounding landfill. The entire project is not cheap, coming with a $10 million price tag. It took the Legislature years to pass the funding bill.

“This is happening on a day when people say we can’t get things done and couldn’t get there, the Twins got a triple play and hit five home runs and beat the Yankees, so things can get done,” said Governor Tim Walz (D – Minnesota).  

It took a lot of political will and the push of an entire community who simply wanted to clean up their neighborhood.

“I actually had someone say, ‘Well, what do we get out it if we do this? And I said, ‘A better state and satisfaction that you are doing the right thing,’” said Rep. Dean Urdahl (R – Grove City), the Capital Investment Committee Chair.  

Cleanup work on the old WDE landfill should wrap up this fall with the top layer of soil and vegetation planted next spring.