Burnsville landfill seeks to extend life by 40 years

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency is recommending expansion of four south metro landfills, including the Burnsville Sanitary Landfill west of Interstate 35W and south of the Minnesota River.

The expansions, a “short-term solution” to the metro area’s “growing garbage problem,” would accommodate 5.6 million tons of garbage over the next seven years, the MPCA said in news release Tuesday.

The Twin Cities metro area generates about 3.3 million tons of waste each year, and the amount of garbage going to landfills has increased by 30% in the past year, the MPCA said.

The MPCA is also reviewing a longer-term proposal from owner Waste Management to extend the Burnsville landfill’s life by 40 years. The agency determined the expansion would not affect groundwater quality but is seeking updated groundwater sampling and analysis from Waste Management as part of a draft environmental impact statement.

The MPCA’s short-term plan calls for adding 1.7 million tons of capacity at the Burnsville landfill; 627,244 tons at the Dem-Con Landfill in Shakopee; 2.4 million tons at the Pine Bend Sanitary Landfill in Inver Grove Heights; and 893,899 tons at the Rich Valley Landfill in Inver Grove Heights.

“We don’t take decisions to expand landfills lightly,” said Kirk Koudelka, MPCA assistant commissioner for land policy and strategic initiatives. “The metro area is running out of landfill space to manage waste as our landfills fill up. Additional capacity is a short-term solution. We are also looking at the long-term, big picture on how to best manage our waste so it does not need to be landfilled.”

The MPCA began a “certificate of need” process last year to allow landfills to apply for additional capacity. The last time landfills expanded, in the early 2000s, two landfills added about 10 years of capacity. Metro-area landfills are now running out of space. If they are not allowed to expand, Twin Cities residents could end up with no local facility to send their waste. This need determination is only for facilities in the seven-county metro area; it does not include waste currently going to landfills in Greater Minnesota or out-of-state facilities.

Each facility may need to complete the environmental review and permitting process. If for some reason a facility isn’t permitted to accept additional garbage, the tonnage will be reallocated to other facilities capable of accepting the waste.

The public has an opportunity to provide feedback on the preliminary determinations during the comment period. The MPCA will also host a virtual public meeting on Wednesday, June 16, at 7 p.m. to learn more about the preliminary determinations and respond to questions and comments. A final determination on landfill capacity is expected this summer.

Burnsville Sanitary Landfill

Waste Management is seeking to expand its long-term capacity by 23.6 million cubic yards of garbage.

Under a plan endorsed by the city of Burnsville and Dakota County, 6 million cubic yards would be used for cleanup of the nearby Freeway Landfill and Dump in Burnsville.

Garbage would be unearthed from the unlined Freeway properties and dumped into lined landfill space at the Burnsville Sanitary Landfill. Kraemer Mining and Materials, which mines limestone in the river bottom in Burnsville, proposes to move the waste over a private road and also mine limestone from the emptied Freeway Landfill.

The MPCA is seeking bids on a “dig and haul” option, which may or may not involve the Burnsville Sanitary Landfill, and a “dig and line” option, which would keep the waste on the Freeway property but in a new lined landfill.

Whichever plan is chosen under the MPCA’s Closed Landfill program, the agency says unearthing the unlined Freeway waste is needed to safeguard drinking water and the river from contamination once Kraemer ceases mining in two to four decades. Dewatering that accompanies mining has kept groundwater from rising to the level where it sits in the Freeway garbage, according to the MPCA.

Any cleanup project will need funding approved by the Minnesota Legislature.

The proposal to expand the Burnsville Sanitary Landfill by 23.6 million cubic yards would shrink its waste-disposal footprint from 216 acres to 204 but increase the landfill’s peak height by 262 feet, to a maximum height of 1,082 feet, according to the MPCA.

While the expansion wouldn’t affect groundwater quality, current monitoring parameters don’t include pollutants such as per- and polyfluoralkyl substances (PFAS) and 1,4-dioxane, the agency said. As part of the permitting process, it’s requiring the landfill to update its groundwater sampling and analysis plan.

The project is not expected to adversely affect surface water except during extreme conditions, such as a 500-year storm, which could result in erosion-related effects.

The project is expected to produce greenhouse gas emissions by 86,542 tons of carbon dioxide per year.

More information on the proposed expansions is on the MPCA website at pca.state.mn.us/waste/twin-cities-metro-bulging-trash.

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