MPCA: Groundwater near 59 closed Minnesota landfills contaminated

The groundwater near 59 closed landfills in 41 counties is contaminated, says a new report from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.

The report, released Thursday, shows the nearly 60 sites exceeded the Department of Health’s guidance values for PFAS, or polyfluoralkyl substances.

According to MPCA Commissioner Laura Bishop, the state found contamination in "almost every closed landfill it oversees."

15 of those closed landfills have PFAS contamination that exceeds state guidelines by 10 times.

The most contaminated area is the Gofer landfill in Martin County, which the MPCA showed was 1,343 times the state guidance value. The Gofer landfill is located north of Fairmont and was closed in 1986.

Contamination from the Gofer landfill was found in nearly all of the monitoring wells, in an adjacent creek and in another off-site monitoring well. All drinking water wells within a mile of the landfill did not test positive for PFAS.

The Louisville landfill, near Shakopee, also showed high levels of PFAS. The landfill, which operated for 22 years until it closed in 1990, had an underground fire start inside of it in late 2020.

Other exceedingly contaminated landfills include the Freeway landfill in Dakota County (714 times over health-based values), the Washington County landfill (657) and the WDE landfill in Anoka County (197).

To address the contamination, the MPCA requested the use of funds in the Closed Landfill Investment Fund during the 2021 legislative session in St. Paul. Under current law, the MPCA cannot use the funds until given approval by the Legislature.

The MPCA says it will continue to monitor groundwater contamination near closed landfills and says it plans to expand its drinking water monitoring as well.